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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: E061986
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/07/2015

In deciding whether to hold a hearing on a motion for disclosure of jurors’ identifying information, the trial court must assume that the declarations supporting the motions are credible. Johnson was convicted of driving while intoxicated causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more. Enhancements and strike priors were found true. He was sentenced to 41 years to life. In his first appeal, Johnson challenged the trial court’s denial of his motion for release of juror information. The Court of Appeal held the trial court erred by denying a hearing, as admissible evidence in one of the declarations supporting the new trial motion reflected juror misconduct, and remanded the case, ordering the trial court to conduct a hearing if it found that the supporting declarations were credible (People v. Johnson (2013) 222 Cal.App.4th 486). On remand, the court found the admissible portion of the declaration not credible and denied a hearing. Johnson appealed. Held: Reversed and previous opinion overruled. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 237, a person may petition the trial court for access to juror identifying information, supporting that request by declaration. If the petition establishes a prima facie showing of good cause for release of the information, the court must set the matter for hearing. The statute does not expressly state whether credibility may be considered in making a good cause determination. Generally, a “prima facie showing” connotes an evidentiary production that is made without regard to credibility, particularly when the prima facie showing merely results in an evidentiary hearing. Here, the Court of Appeal concluded that its directions to the trial court in the first appeal were incorrect because the credibility of the declarations at this point was actually irrelevant. The court remanded the case for a hearing on Johnson’s new trial motion.