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Name: People v. Seijas
Case #: B160209
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 02/24/2004
Subsequent History: Mod. 116 CA4th 1159b; Rev. granted 5/19/04: S123790

The trial court erred in allowing the prosecution to introduce the preliminary hearing testimony of a witness erroneously permitted to assert a Fifth Amendment privilege. A minor who witnessed the shooting in this case testified at the preliminary hearing, but at trial he asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination due to his potential criminal liability for lying to the police. The District Attorney refused to grant him transactional or use immunity for his testimony, and the trial court subsequently found the minor to be unavailable as a witness and permitted the prosecution to introduce his preliminary hearing testimony into evidence. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the minor could have had no reasonable fear of prosecution for lying to the police, since lying to the police is not a crime in California. The erroneous finding deprived the defendant of his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses, and was prejudicial beyond a reasonable doubt.