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Name: People v. Sturm
Case #: S031423
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/06/2006
Summary

In this automatic appeal, the death sentence was reversed where the trial court persisted in making disparaging comments about defense witnesses, disparaged the defense attorney, and made comments from which the jury could perceive that the judge did not believe the witnesses. (The trial court asked one expert witness who said he received federal grant money whether he was contributing to the federal deficit, told witnesses they were causing problems for the court by “embellishing” their testimony, told defense counsel that he “knew the questions were objectionable” and asked why he was asking them, etc.) The cumulative effect of the trial court’s comments required a reversal of the death sentence.