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Name: People v. Cleland
Case #: B143757
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 05/27/2003
Subsequent History: Rhrg. den. 6/16/03

In a murder case, the police put codefendants (one of whom was the victim’s widow), who they knew to be cousins, in the same patrol car after each was arrested separately. They sat in silence for the 15 minutes they were in the car. One was asked, prior to receiving Miranda warnings, if he knew the other, and denied knowing who she was. The court held the defendants’ Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the prosecutor’s use of the statement denying acquaintance of his cousin, and use of defendants’ post-arrest silence as evidence as guilt. Neither defendant testified, and the prosecutor’s argument impermissibly drew attention to their decision not to testify to explain their silence in the patrol car. The errors were not harmless, as the case against the widow was entirely circumstantial, and the evidence against the other codefendant consisted of the testimony of a paid informant, and the eyewitness testimony was uncompelling.