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Name: People v. Gutierrez
Case #: A134695
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/12/2013

The prosecution’s Brady obligation to disclose favorable and material evidence applies to preliminary hearings and was not abrogated by Proposition 115. Appellant was charged with two counts of Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a), and held to answer on the offenses following a preliminary hearing. Subsequent to the hearing, the defense obtained police reports from the juvenile court that revealed that one of the alleged victims had previously made accusations of molestation that were determined to have been unfounded. The trial court granted appellant’s motion to dismiss and the People appealed. Held: Affirmed. The prosecution has a duty under the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause to disclose evidence to a criminal defendant that is both favorable to the defendant and material on either guilt or punishment. (Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83.) The court rejected the People’s claim that this duty as applied to preliminary hearings was abrogated by Proposition 115, which authorizes the use of hearsay evidence at preliminary hearings, seeks to promote fair and speedy trials, and sets forth a reciprocal discovery procedure. The prosecutor’s duties of disclosure under the due process clause are wholly independent of any statutory scheme of reciprocal discovery and are self-executing with the prosecution required to provide such evidence voluntarily. (Izazaga v. Superior Court (1991) 54 Cal.3d 356.) Breech of this duty is deemed to violate a substantial right; i.e., the defendant’s ability to effectively cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. Here, it was reasonably probable that the outcome of the preliminary hearing would have been different if the exculpatory evidence had been provided. Therefore, the trial court’s dismissal was supported.