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Name: People v. Davis
Case #: A137800
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/12/2014
Summary

Denial of prosecution’s post-conviction Brady motion is not appealable by the defendant because his substantial rights were not affected by the order. Davis was convicted in 2000 of first degree burglary with four prior serious felonies and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. In 2012 the prosecution filed a motion for discovery of potential Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 material from the personnel file of one of the officers who testified at Davis’ trial. Davis’ attorney attended the hearing, but waived Davis’ presence. The court conducted an in-camera review of the file and found no evidence material to guilt or punishment in Davis’ case. Davis appealed. Held: Appeal dismissed. The trial court’s order in this case was not appealable because it is not an order after judgment affecting Davis’ substantial rights (Pen. Code, § 1237, subd. (b)). First, the order resolves a motion Davis did not and could not have made himself post-judgment. Although Davis could have filed a motion under Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531 and its statutory implementation (Evid. Code, §§ 832.7, 832.8, 1043-1045) to obtain relevant and discoverable evidence in the officer’s file prior to judgment, a convicted defendant does not have a free-floating right to post-judgment discovery that is unrelated to any proceeding pending before the court. (But see Pen. Code § 1054.9, which authorizes post-judgment discovery orders in death/LWOP cases). The prosecution’s motion here was authorized by its ongoing Brady obligation, which does not confer post-judgment discovery rights on a defendant; his right to discover such evidence derives solely from Pitchess. Additionally, Davis did not use the prosecution’s pending Brady motion as a vehicle for pursuing post-judgment discovery.

The superior court’s handling of the prosecution’s Brady motion did not deny defendant due process of law. In a related petition for writ of mandate, Davis sought to compel the trial court to conduct a new Brady hearing at which he would have the opportunity to be heard. To obtain such relief, Davis must show he has no adequate alternative remedy; a plain ministerial duty on the part of respondent; and a beneficial right in the performance of that duty. Davis may not appeal the order, so he satisfied the first requirement. However, he failed to establish that he made a request to participate at the time of the hearing or that such a request would have been futile. Nor did he show a ministerial duty on the part of the court or his beneficial right to performance of that duty.