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Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: F052116
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/15/2008

Trial court’s error in requiring prisoner defendant to serve subpoenas on witnesses was harmless error. At Garcia’s trial for possession of a sharp instrument in prison, the trial court required the self-represented defendant to serve subpoenas on his prisoner witnesses before they could be transported to court. The judge would not issue removal orders for Garcia’s witnesses due to his mistaken belief that Garcia was first required to have subpoenas served within the prison, which Garcia could not do. The appellate court found that the trial court erred. Service of a subpoena pursuant to Penal Code section 1328 is not required before a court can issue a removal order. Since the subpoena would serve no purpose under the circumstances, the court does not have discretion to order a party to serve one as a condition of a removal order. However, the error was harmless. The trial court’s erroneous demand was not a refusal to allow Garcia to present his defense; it only precluded certain evidence supporting the defense. Garcia was able to present his defense without those witnesses. As a result, the Watson standard for harmless error review applies. Under the Watson standard, the trial court’s error was harmless since Garcia’s defense was fully explored before the jury.