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Name: People v. Vasco
Case #: G031916
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/30/2005
Subsequent History: rehng. den. 7/15/05

A trial court did not err in applying the newsperson’s shield law to restrict a defendant’s cross-examination of a reporter. The trial court permitted cross-examination of the reporter only as to published accounts of his interview with the defendant prior to trial, but excluded questioning regarding unpublished material. The defendant claimed that this material would bolster her claims that she lacked the intent to kill and that she suffered from battered women’s syndrome. The appellate court affirmed, holding that while a defendant’s constitutional rights may trump the newsperson’s shield law under appropriate circumstances, the defendant failed to meet the burden of showing that the information sought would materially aid her defense. The information she sought would have been largely cumulative, and any error in excluding the evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, sufficient evidence supported the defendant’s conviction for the second degree murder of her former lover, where the evidence showed that this murder was a natural and probable consequence of her assisting the former lover in hiring her new boyfriend to kill his wife, and providing the boyfriend with a weapon, where she knew that the hired assassin was a dangerous, violent, paranoid-sociopath.