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Name: People v. Sons
Case #: B192825
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 06/19/2008
Summary

A court need not review a double jeopardy claim where it was previously raised and rejected on appeal. Appellant’s original conviction for murder was vacated in federal court due to a Brady violation. Appellant filed a motion to bar retrial on a double jeopardy theory, which was denied. The Fifth District Court of Appeal rejected the issue on appeal, and the California Supreme Court denied review. The matter was retried twice in Kern County, with both juries unable to reach a verdict. Following a change of venue to Santa Barbara County, a jury acquitted him of murder but found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter. On appeal, appellant argued that double jeopardy barred any retrial. The appellate court did not reach the merits of the issue because it had been previously rejected by the Fifth District Court of Appeal following the original conviction, and the Supreme Court denied review. The prior opinion was therefore “law of the case.”
A trial judge in subsequent trial is not bound by trial rulings made during a previous trial by a previous trial judge. Appellant also contended that the trial court erred when it refused to give a sanction jury instruction crafted for the second and third trials and an instruction “clarifying” appellant’s self defense claim. Appellant contended that the first trial court’s ruling binds the subsequent trial court called upon to rule on the same issue. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the law of the case doctrine does not apply to rulings of the trial court, including jury instructions.
The trial court did not err when it rejected a proposed clarifying instruction on self-defense. Appellant also contended that the trial court erred when it rejected a proposed clarifying instruction on self-defense. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the jury was instructed with CALJIC No. 16.106 which instructs properly on self defense as it applies where an officer uses excessive force to make an arrest. Any error would have been harmless anyway because appellant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.