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Name: People v. Sandoval
Case #: C030917
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/28/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 7/11/01
Summary

Reversal of a murder conviction was required where no showing was made of a reasonable, good-faith effort to obtain the attendance of a crucial witness at trial prior to the admission of the witness’s testimony from the preliminary hearing. Upon proof that the witness in question was a Mexican citizen residing in Mexico at the time of the trial, the trial court allowed the prosecution to present the transcript of his preliminary hearing to the jury. The appellate court here held that any exception to the confrontation requirement would arise of necessity, not because of convenience to the prosecution. There was the possibility that prosecution could have compelled or assisted in the witness’s presence at trial, that closed-circuit television could have allowed the jury to view the testimony, or that his testimony could have been not used at trial. Finding the witness unavailable simply because he was a Mexican citizen living in Mexico violated the Confrontation Clause under the circumstances of this case. The error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. There was only one other witness to the shooting besides the witness in question, and his credibility was dubious. The witness pinned the shooting on appellant, and there was no opportunity for the jury to determine whether he was telling the truth. Therefore, reversal was required.