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Name: People v. Robinson (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 1345
Case #: G063090
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 02/27/2024

A trial court does not abuse its discretion when it permits the prosecution to introduce evidence of a prior domestic violence conviction under Evidence Code section 1109 through a certified record of conviction, rather than through live testimony by the alleged victim. Defendant was charged with committing domestic violence and other related crimes against his girlfriend on or about three separate dates. During trial, the prosecution introduced evidence of a 2017 domestic violence conviction (involving a different victim) in order to show defendant had a propensity to commit such crimes. (See Evid. Code, § 1109.) In admitting the certified record of this conviction, the trial court concluded the prosecution was not required to put on live testimony to prove the prior conviction. Defendant appealed. Held: Affirmed. When a “defendant is accused of an offense involving domestic violence, evidence of the defendant’s commission of other domestic violence is not made inadmissible by Section 1101 if the evidence is not inadmissible pursuant to Section 352.” (§ 1109(a)(1).) In People v. Wesson (2006) 138 Cal.App.4th 959, the court allowed the prosecution to introduce evidence of the defendant’s prior sex convictions under section 1108 (which permits evidence of other sexual offenses) through documentary evidence as opposed to live testimony. Here, the court concluded that with respect to admitting nontestimonial evidence under section 1108 or section 1109, the analysis is essentially the same. In both cases, the Evidence Code allows the prosecution to introduce documentary “evidence” to prove the fact of a conviction as well as the underlying offense. “Evidence” includes writings. (Evid. Code, § 140.) Just as in Wesson, the documents supporting defendant’s 2017 certified record of conviction for domestic violence are “writings” and thus fall into the statutory definition of “evidence.” [Editor’s Notes: (1) In a footnote, the court explained that the opinion was published because it appears to address a matter of first impression. (2) The court further concluded that defendant forfeited his additional argument that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his prior domestic violence conviction under Evidence Code section 1109 without a showing of the underlying facts. Even if the court were to find evidentiary error, the error was not prejudicial in light of the other evidence at trial.]