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Name: People v. Gaines
Case #: S157008
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/30/2009
Summary

When a trial court has erroneously rejected a showing of good cause for Pitchess discovery (Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531), the appropriate remedy is conditional remand with reversal only if there is a reasonable probability of a different result had the information been disclosed. Appellant appealed his conviction for possession of cocaine base and a smoking device, claiming that the trial court erred in denying his Pitchess motion. Appellant had filed the motion pretrial, seeking any records that the officers had previously falsified records, planted evidence, or committed acts demonstrating dishonesty. The appellate court agreed that the trial court abused its discretion by summarily denying the motion without reviewing the records in camera, and conditionally remanded for the court to review the records. On review, appellant argued that he was entitled to a new trial on showing that relevant information had been withheld without needing to show prejudice, or that if prejudice was a prerequisite to relief, the People had the burden of demonstrating that failure to provide the information was harmless. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding reversal is required only if there is a reasonable probability of a different result had the information been disclosed. (Overruling People v. Memro (1985) 38 Cal.3d 658, to the extent it disagreed with the instant ruling.)