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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: E056878
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/19/2013

Trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s posttrial motion for disclosure of jurors’ identifying information. At the scene of an accident, defendant was “blatantly drunk” and admitted rear-ending an SUV that was stopped at a red light, injuring its occupants. A jury convicted defendant of DUI offenses and found numerous enhancements true. Before sentencing, which was over a year after trial, defendant sought release of jurors’ identifying information. Included in his motion were declarations signed by his mother and stepfather about a conversation with three jurors regarding defendant’s failure to testify. Defendant appealed the denial of this motion. Held: Remanded for reconsideration. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 237, trial jurors’ personal identifying information must be sealed after a criminal verdict. A defendant may petition the court for access to these records and must support the request by a declaration establishing good cause for release of the information. Here, one statement in the stepfather’s declaration—that “at least half of the jurors . . . raised the question if he is innocent why didn’t he take the stand and defend himself”—was relevant and admissible under Evidence Code section 1150. The making of this statement constituted misconduct, as CALCRIM No. 355 instructed the jury not to consider the defendant’s failure to testify. The court abused its discretion by disregarding this evidence. Under section 237, defendant was not required to show diligent efforts to contact the jurors through other means and, as he wanted the information for a lawful purpose (the new trial motion), he did not have to show due diligence in bringing the disclosure motion.