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Name: People v. Williams
Case #: B152020
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/08/2002
Subsequent History: Opinion mod. & Rehg. denied 11/1/02. Rev. denied 1/15/03.

At appellant’s trial for numerous domestic violence related offenses, videotaped testimony of the complaining witness was admitted pursuant to Evidence Code section 1370. The victim, who suffered from documented physical and mental disabilities, was also available as a witness, but was examined outside the presence of the jury and appellant. Here, the appellate court held that appellant was not denied his right to confront witnesses, to be present at trial, and to due process. The videotape was recorded while the victim was in the courtroom and was examined by counsel, and while appellant was in a detention…

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Name: Whelchel v. State of Washington
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/29/2000
Subsequent History: None

The district court's issuance of habeas relief was affirmed in a first degree murder prosecution where tape-recorded statements made by a pair of unavailable co-defendants implicating Whelchel had been admitted at trial. A principal part of the prosecution's case against Whelchel were the taped statements, which had been given to Sheriff's officers. The Washington Supreme Court found the admission of the statements to be harmless error because of the overwhelming untainted evidence of guilt presented at trial. The appellate court here agreed that the statements did not meet the requirement of trustworthiness. The statements made by…

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Name: U.S. v. Boone
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/18/2000
Subsequent History: None

The girlfriend of Williams, a codefendant, surreptitiously taped his statements implicating him and Boone in an armed robbery. Over Boone's objections, the statements were received in evidence as statements against interest. Boone argued that admission violated his right under the Sixth Amendment to confront and cross-examine Williams, the hearsay declarant, citing Lilly v. Virginia (1999) 527 U.S. 116. The appellate court here distinguished Lilly, which dealt with a confession obtained by police during an in-custody interrogation. Here, the conversation occurred in a private setting between Williams and his girlfriend, with no police involvement as far as…

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Name: Shewfelt v. State of Alaska
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/02/2000
Subsequent History: None

It was error for the trial court to have played back testimony for the jury during their deliberations, without informing the defendant or allowing him to be present for the playback. The court's failure to provide the defendant with the opportunity to be present, or in the alternative, to obtain a personal waiver of the right to be present, was a violation of his Sixth Amendment rights. However, the error was "trial error" as opposed to "structural error" and therefore was subject to a harmless error analysis. Shewfelt was not entitled to relief unless the record demonstrated…

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Name: People v. Vu
Case #: H022334
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/04/2002
Subsequent History: Opinion withdrawn by order of court, depublication ordered 8/21/02.

In a rape prosecution, it was not error for the trial court to prohibit the cross-examination of the rape victim concerning statements she had made to appellant about being pregnant. The victim did not claim to be a "sexual innocent" and an alleged claim of pregnancy was not inconsistent with any of her statements. Therefore, Evidence Code section 1103, subdivision (c)(4) was inapplicable. Further, appellant was not denied his right to due process or a fair trial because the evidence was properly excluded. It was not prosecutorial misconduct for the prosecutor to have called as a…

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Name: Alvarado v. Superior Court
Case #: S059827
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/17/2000
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied 11/15/00

In light of controlling constitutional authorities, the trial court and the Court of Appeal erred in determining that, when the risk to a witness is sufficiently grave, the identity of the witness may be permanently withheld from a defendant and that the witness may testify anonymously at trial, even though the witness is a crucial prosecution witness and withholding the witness' identity will impair significantly the defendant's ability to investigate and cross-examine the witness. The trial court's ruling implicated appellant's right to due process of law, and his right to confront the witnesses against him. And in every case…

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Name: People v. Steele
Case #: B134069
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/22/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 12/13/00

The trial court erred when it refused to allow appellant to cross-examine victim-witness Williams on her prior misdemeanor conviction for providing false information to a police officer during an arrest for prostitution. While appellant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation and cross-examination was violated, it was not prejudicial per Davis v. Alaska (1974) 415 U.S. 308. Here Williams was impeached with her prior conviction for voluntary manslaughter. Furthermore, she admitted a 20 year career as a prostitute. The fact that during that lengthy prostitution career Williams had provided false information to a police officer probably "surprised no…

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Name: U.S. v. Adamson
Case #: 00-10643
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/23/2002
Subsequent History: None

In his trial for wire fraud and money laundering, appellant was prohibited from fully cross- examining his brother, a key witness who had been granted immunity, about certain hearsay statements. Since the trial court’s rulings unnecessarily limited relevant, probative, and crucial evidence concerning the credibility of a key government witness, the appellate court here reversed. Since the case turned on a credibility contest between the two brothers, the trial court’s ruling precluded appellant from making his case, so the error was not…

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Name: Hernandez v. Small
Case #: 00-56286
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/07/2002
Subsequent History: Cert. den. 10/7/02

In this habeas case, the Ninth Circuit found that the admission of testimony at a California state trial was not contrary to the Confrontation Clause. Late at night at a market, petitioner and co-defendant Cota shot a rival gang member, and beat and shot another gang member, leaving him for dead – however, he survived. They stole the latter's car and then abandoned it elsewhere. Eventually, Cota made self-inculpatory statements to the police that he had ridden to the market that night to steal a car. Both co-defendant's invoked their 5th Amendment rights not to testify,…

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Name: People v. Perez
Case #: B126876
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/28/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 11/15/00

At a trial for first degree special circumstance murder for a drive-by shooting, a prosecution witness to the shooting, Gutierrez, repeatedly answered "I don't remember" to virtually all the questions asked her about what she had seen the night of the murder. A police officer testified that Gutierrez had told him she was afraid she would be shot if she testified. Her prior statements describing the crime and identifying appellants were then admitted into evidence as prior inconsistent statements. The appellate court here held that there was no violation of appellant's right to confrontation. The witness…

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