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Name: People v. Sanchez
Case #: E048972
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/25/2011

The court abuses its discretion when it places a deputy near the defendant while he testifies on the basis of a general courtroom policy with no case-specific concerns for security. The Supreme Court transferred this case back to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration after People v. Hernandez (2011) 51 Cal.4th 733 [uniformed deputy stationed at the witness stand must be based on individualized facts showing the defendant poses a safety or flight risk or would otherwise disrupt proceedings; Watson review standard is applied]. Here a deputy followed the defendant from counsel table to the witness stand when he testified in a prosecution for indecent exposure. The deputy stood “at ease” or sat behind the defendant while he testified and then followed him back to his seat at counsel table. There was no discussion of the procedure beforehand, but defense counsel sought a mistrial afterward on the basis that it deprived defendant of a fair trial. Such error is reviewed to determine whether it is reasonably probable that the defendant would have obtained a more favorable result absent the presence of the deputy. There was no indication the deputy’s demeanor was anything other than respectful and appropriate, the defendant was dressed in street clothes, the eyewitness testimony was very strong, and the defendant’s version of events lacked persuasive appeal.