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Name: People v. Jacinto
Case #: S164011
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/27/2010

To prevail on a claim of prosecutorial violation of the right to compulsory process in a case where a defense witness is no longer available to testify because he has been deported, the defendant must establish prosecutorial misconduct. Appellant was at a restaurant where the victim was stabbed. The victim identified appellant as the responsible, and he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. With information provided by appellant’s family, a defense investigator located a restaurant employee who identified another person as the perpetrator. At the time the employee was contacted by the investigator, the employee was being held in county jail on an unrelated matter. Although the investigator served the sheriff, as well as the employee, with a subpoena for the employee, he was released to federal authorities and deported. At the time the investigator served a second subpoena, he was aware that the witness might be deported. Under both the federal and state constitution, a defendant has the right to compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor. (U.S. Const., 6th Amend.; Cal. Const., art. XV, sec. 15.) Appellant claimed that his rights under the compulsory process clause were violated when the sheriff released the witness to the federal authorities, knowing he would most likely be deported. To prevail on a claim of prosecutorial violation of the right to compulsory process, the claimant must show (1) prosecutorial misconduct, i.e., conduct entirely unnecessary to the proper performance of the prosecutor’s duties that transformed a willing defense witness into an unwilling one; (2) a causal link between the prosecutorial misconduct and the defendant’s inability to present the witness; and (3) materiality of the anticipated testimony. The Supreme Court found that because it was the sheriff, not the prosecutor, who released the witness, and that there was no evidence establishing that the deputies at the jail were part of the prosecution team, appellant failed in establishing prosecutorial misconduct necessary to support a claim of a violation of his constitutional rights.