Skip to content
Name: People v. Mena
Case #: S173973
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/31/2012

A trial court’s denial of a lineup motion is reviewable by either a pretrial writ or direct appeal. Appellant and his codefendants were charged with two assaults stemming from an unprovoked attack on the 15-year-old and 17-year-old victims. One victim identified appellant at a curbside showup and the other identified him at a photographic lineup. Prior to trial, appellant sought but was denied a pretrial lineup. He did not seek writ review. The appellate court ruled that appellant had forfeited his right to appeal the denial by failing to seek a writ. Reversed. A defendant has a state due process right, upon a timely request, to be afforded a pretrial lineup. (Evans v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 617.) Under Penal Code section 1259, the full scope of appeal encompasses any question of law involved in any pretrial ruling that affects the substantial rights of a defendant, including denial of a pretrial lineup motion. Review also remains via a writ of mandate. On direct appeal, appellant must show prejudice under the Chapman standard. While there may be some circumstances in which a defendant would be able to establish prejudice, many attempts will rest on speculation and the mere assertion that a witness might possibly have failed to make a positive identification cannot demonstrate prejudice. Here, the denial was harmless error.