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Name: People v. Treadway
Case #: C059069
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/01/2010
Summary

A plea agreement prohibiting codefendants from testifying at defendant’s trial violated his right to present a defense. Appellant had suffered major brain damage when he was hit by a drunk driver, and his mental condition was deteriorating. In that state, appellant robbed the victim and then shot him four times, wounding him seriously, after the victim threw his bag lunch at appellant. Appellant and two codefendants, Morgan and Miller, were all charged with crimes based on the robbery (there was evidence that the codefendants may have suggested the robbery and given appellant the gun), but the prosecution made plea agreements with both codefendants in which it required them not to testify at appellant’s trial, even though appellant was brain-damaged and Morgan’s statements would have strongly supported appellant’s defense. The jury convicted appellant of attempted robbery and assault with a firearm, both with gun enhancements, but deadlocked on an attempted murder charge. On appeal, appellant contended that his due process and compulsory process rights were violated, because the plea agreements prohibiting the codefendants from testifying were highly coercive, and it is unconstitutional for the State to intentionally coerce witnesses who have material information favorable to the defense. The Court of Appeal agreed. It also found the error prejudicial, in large part because the record contained highly favorable information that Morgan provided to police, and the prosecution’s coercion deprived appellant of the possibility of Morgan’s unimpeded testimony; and secondarily, because the deadlock on the attempted murder charge indicated that Morgan’s account might have led at least some jurors to conclude the shooting was not volitional or that appellant was not conscious of what he was doing.