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Name: People v. Pantoja
Case #: A101223
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/07/2004
Subsequent History: 10/6/04 rhg. den.
Summary

A murder victim’s translated statements in application for a restraining order, custody, and child support are not admissible under Evidence Code section 1370 because they are not sufficiently trustworthy. The defendant was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, and at trial the prosecution relied heavily on a declaration the victim had made in applying for a restraining order against the defendant several days before she was killed. The court declined to reach the constitutional issue under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1354, holding that the evidence was not admissible under section 1370. The court reasoned that the statements were not made at or near the time of the infliction or threat of physical injuries, because the statements related to some events that had taken place a year earlier. Moreover, the statements completely failed to satisfy the trustworthiness requirement of section 1370. The statements lacked foundational information that would enable the court to evaluate their trustworthiness, and their erroneous admission was not harmless under People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818.