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Name: People v. Stevens
Case #: A112197
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/29/2007
Subsequent History: 2/13/08 rev. granted (S158852)

The trial court did not err by permitting an armed guard to stand behind appellant while he testified. During appellant’s trial and over his objection, a deputy sheriff sat next to appellant while he testified, in accordance with department policy. On appeal appellant contended that the presence of a sheriff’s deputy while he testified branded him with a “mask of guilt.” The appellate court rejected the argument, distinguishing the presence of an officer from shackling, and holding that there was no evidence that the jurors made any negative inferences about appellant stemming from the presence of a guard. Further, the jurors were instructed to disregard appellant’s custodial status. Note: J. Ruvolo dissented from this portion of the opinion, finding that it was a denial of due process because it unreasonably created the impression that the defendant was dangerous and untrustworthy.
The presence of a support person during the victim’s testimony was not error. Appellant also contended that without a showing of necessity, the presence of a victim-support person during the victim’s testimony infringed his right of confrontation. The appellate court found the issue waived for failure to object below, but also rejected the argument. Appellant did not demonstrate prejudice from the use of the support person procedure, or that the absence of a showing of particularized need was fatal to the valid exercise of his confrontation rights. Further, the record supported an implied finding of need because the victim was 16 years old and confronting her father.