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Name: People v. Huggins
Case #: A139104
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 03/30/2015
Summary

An accomplice and an in-custody informant may corroborate each other’s testimony. Huggins and Housley were both charged with robberies, one of which resulted in a murder. Housley, originally a codefendant, agreed to testify against Huggins as part of a plea bargain. An in-custody informant, who had been housed next to Huggins, also testified against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. At trial, Huggins requested an instruction that an accomplice and an in-custody informant cannot corroborate each other’s testimony. The trial court refused to give the instruction and Huggins was convicted of murder and other offenses. On appeal, Huggins raised the jury instruction issue. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 1111 provides that a conviction may not be based on an accomplice’s testimony unless it is corroborated by other evidence that tends to connect the defendant with the commission of the offense. Penal Code section 1111.5 provides that a conviction and other specified findings may not be based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant. The statute also states that it does not limit or change the requirements for corroboration of accomplice testimony under section 1111. Prior to the enactment of section 1111.5, People v. Williams (1997) 16 Cal.4th 153, 201, 246 approved the use of testimony by an in-custody informant to corroborate the testimony of an accomplice. As a result, section 1111.5, by its own terms, preserved this rule. Additionally, there is no indication that the Legislature intended section 1111.5 to preclude an accomplice from corroborating an in-custody informant’s testimony. The court declined to adopt a judicially created rule that accomplices and in-custody informants cannot corroborate each other’s testimony because both are self-interested, as credibility determinations should be left to the jury.