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Name: People v. Singh
Case #: F084642
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/27/2024

Defendant’s Racial Justice Act (RJA) claim was forfeited because he failed to raise the issue in the trial court. Singh, who is from India, was convicted of first degree murder for killing his daughter-in-law, who was unfaithful to her husband. For the first time on appeal, he argued that his interview with police, as translated, infused the trial with implicit bias in violation of the RJA (Pen. Code, § 745), based on police references to “honor killing.” The Court of Appeal affirmed. Despite AB No. 1118, which amended section 745 to authorize a defendant to raise an RJA claim on appeal, a defendant may nonetheless forfeit an RJA argument made for the first time on appeal where he did not file an RJA motion in the trial court before judgment, or fails to establish an exception to the forfeiture doctrine.

Defendant’s interrogation, as translated, did not infuse the trial with implicit bias in violation of his due process, equal protection, and fair trial rights. The admission of evidence, even if erroneous under state law, results in a due process violation only if it makes the trial fundamentally unfair. Here, the challenged evidence was not so prejudicial or inflammatory that it rendered defendant’s trial fundamentally unfair. There was one question about “honor killing” during the defendant’s interrogation, the defense presented an expert who testified the case did not involve an honor killing, and the prosecution did not rely on such a theory. In any event, the issue was forfeited by defendant’s failure to raise it below.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: