caclr_header_template1 California Criminal Law Reporter

Recent Defense Victories

The trial court committed statutory error at defendant’s capital trial by failing to take a separate jury trial waiver as to the special circumstance allegation. (635)
Defendant waived his right to a jury trial for the guilt and penalty phases of his capital case. The record showed his waiver was knowing and intelligent. However, Penal Code section 190.4, subd.(a) requires a separate personal waiver of the jury trial right for the special circumstance allegation. The failure to obtain that additional waiver was statutory error, but it was harmless absent evidence that the defendant would have chosen a jury trial for the special circumstance allegation absent the error.
People v. Sivongxxay ____ Cal.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 5822 (2017) June 19, 2017 (S078895)
The trial court erred by imposing an enhancement under section 273.5, subd. (f)(1) that had not been pled in the information. (224) (512) (845)
Defendant was charged with, and convicted of, two counts of corporal injury to a cohabitant in violation of Penal Code section 273.5, subd.(a). That provision carries a sentence range of two, three, or four years. The information also included a special allegation under section 273.5, subd. (h)(1) that provided for an additional 15 days on each count. The sentencing court (at the prosecution’s request) erred by imposing a longer term under section 273.5, subd. (f)(1), an enhancement (or an alternative sentencing provision) that was never pled despite the prosecutor’s claim that there was proof to support it. The sentence under that provision violated defendant’s due process rights.
People v. Wilford ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 5606 (4th Dist. 2017) June 12, 2017 (D069888)
The department of hospitals erred by “undesignating” an SVP evaluator after learning she was unqualified, and appointing another, instead of appointing two new professionals. (522)
Two psychologists were appointed to evaluate defendant to determine whether he was a sexually violent predator. One psychologist (the one who determined defendant was not an SVP) was “undesignated” after it was learned that she failed to meet minimum quality standards pursuant to California Department of State Hospitals Quality Assurance processes. The department then designated a new expert to serve as the second evaluator. Defendant was thereafter subject to SVP proceedings. However, by “undesignating” the expert, rather than appointing two new experts, the department violated Welfare and Institutions Code section 6601. The department was directed to appoint two new independent professionals to evaluate defendant.
In re Snyder ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 5488 (3rd Dist. 2017) June 09, 2017 (C082275)
The warrant authorizing a search of the house did not permit the search of a separate residence behind the house that may have accessed the computer network from the front house wirelessly. (374)
Police identified an IP address for an Internet account sharing child pornography online. Comcast identified the subscriber as J. Reynolds at 309 South 23rd street. Police obtained a search warrant for the residence, garages and outbuildings. While conducting the search, police noticed defendant (Nguyen) living in a separate residence behind the house. They searched his residence and found a laptop with child pornography. However, police lacked probable cause to search defendant’s residence because they had no basis to believe the suspect network was accessed from defendant’s residence. The warrant did not expressly authorize the search, and the police lacked good faith reliance on the warrant.
People v. Nguyen ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 5394 (6th Dist. 2017) June 07, 2017 (H042795)
The master calendar court erred by granting defendant’s Faretta request without first determining whether he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel. (627)
In the master calendar court, the defendant exercised his right to represent himself after the court agreed to continue trial where appointed counsel was engaged in another trial. However, the master calendar court failed to properly advise defendant of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation. The judge simply asked whether defendant initialed and signed the Faretta advisement form, and whether he had any questions. The court did not ascertain on the record that defendant read and understood the form, and the court failed to inquire about ambiguities in defendant’s responses regarding his understanding of the nature of the charges against him.
People v. Ruffin ____ Cal.App.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 5387 (2nd Dist. 2017) June 06, 2017 (B270940)
Speculating that the victim’s father died of a broken heart was improper victim impact evidence. (866)
The prosecutor arguably presented improper victim impact evidence at the penalty phase of defendant’s trial by speculating the victim’s father had died of a broken heart. However, defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice.
People v. Parker ____ Cal.5th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2017 D.A.R 5238 (2017) June 05, 2017 (S076169)