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Name: People v. Bradford
Case #: A125040
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/31/2010

A mall security guard can be the victim of a robbery despite not being the owner of the property or an employee of the store that owned the property. Appellant was seen stealing from a Victoria’s Secret store and the store employee reported the theft to mall security guards. When the guards tried to detain appellant, he waved a knife at them and ran away. The guards chased appellant and managed to detain him after he tried to stab one of them with a knife. Based on this incident, appellant was convicted of two counts of second degree robbery. Appellant challenged the convictions alleging the requisite possessory interest for the crime of robbery had not been established. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the element of possession was satisfied by the special relationship the guards had with all the businesses in the mall. They were employees of a company which was contractually obligated to provide security services to the stores. As security guards, the men were expected to resist the taking of property, and so were in constructive possession of the property stolen by appellant. In addition, the store employee specifically asked the guards to help recover the property, thereby conferring constructive possession of the property. (See People v. Bekele (1995) 33 Cal.App. 4th 1457.)
Any defect in CALCRIM No. 1600 was not prejudicial under the facts. In a related contention, appellant argued CALCRIM No. 1600 was deficient in that it failed to tell the jury it needed to find a special relationship existed to convey constructive possession. The court rejected the argument because the jury was told it had to find the guards were “representatives” of the store, which the court viewed as a more stringent showing. Given the jury found the guards qualified as representatives of the store, there is no reasonable likelihood the jury failed to find a special relationship.
Appellant’s mid-trial Faretta motion was properly denied. Appellant sought to represent himself after the close of the evidence but before closing arguments were presented. The reasons given were that appellant felt he could speak better than counsel and because he was generally unhappy with counsel. The court denied the motion, finding appellant had received good representation. Midtrial Faretta requests are left to the discretion of the trial courts. The factors to consider are the defendant’s reasons for the request, the quality of representation, the defendant’s proclivity to substitute counsel, the length and stage of the trial, and the expected delay. Based on these factors, the denial of appellant’s midtrial request to represent himself was not an abuse of discretion. The court agreed counsel had provided adequate representation, and noted appellant complained about several attorneys and had been disruptive during trial.