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Name: People v. Yeager-Reiman (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 843
Case #: B331175
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 02/16/2024

Defendant’s prosecution for grand theft based on defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was not preempted by federal law. Defendant pleaded guilty to misdemeanor grand theft. On appeal, defendant argued his prosecution was preempted by federal law because he was a veteran and his alleged offenses concerned the theft of benefits from the VA. Held: Affirmed. The Court of Appeal disagreed with defendant’s argument that his prosecution was preempted by federal law—“field” and “obstacle” preemption—and that the trial court was thus without jurisdiction to hear his case. Field preemption exists when Congress intended to foreclose any state regulation in the area. In such…

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Name: People v. Zemek (2023) 93 Cal.App.5th 313
Case #: D080917
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/11/2023

Trial court’s ruling requiring defendant’s husband and sister to attend her trial via livestreaming on the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic did not violate her right to a public trial. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zemek was convicted of first degree murder, elder abuse, and theft offenses. She raised a number of issues on appeal, including that she was denied her right to a public trial. The trial court had closed the physical courtroom to the public based on COVID-19 emergency orders and protocols, but the trial was livestreamed on the Internet. The court denied defense counsel’s multiple requests for Zemek’s…

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Name: Smith v. U.S. (2023) __ U.S. __ [143 S.Ct. 1594]
Case #: 21-1576
Court: US Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 06/15/2023

The U.S. Constitution permits retrial when a conviction is reversed because the prosecution occurred in the wrong venue and before a jury drawn from the wrong location. Smith was indicted in the Northern District of Florida for theft of trade secrets, among other charges. After the jury returned a guilty verdict, Smith moved for a judgment of acquittal based on improper venue. The district court denied the motion. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit held that venue was improper on the trade secrets charge but that the error did not bar reprosecution. Held: Affirmed. In almost all circumstances, the appropriate remedy…

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Name: People v. Alexander (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 469
Case #: E078846
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/11/2023

State laws prohibiting felons from possessing firearms and ammunition are facially valid under Bruen because such conduct is not covered by the Second Amendment. Defendant challenged his convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition (Pen. Code, § 29800, subd. (a)(1); § 30305, subd. (a)(1)), arguing that under New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (2022) 597 U.S. __ [142 S.Ct. 2111], these statutes violate the Second Amendment right to possess firearms for self-defense. Held: Affirmed. In Bruen, the U.S. Supreme Court set forth a new analytical framework for assessing Second Amendment challenges. Here,…

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Name: People v. Gonsalves
Case #: A159031
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/30/2021

Probation condition prohibiting defendant from associating with persons with a known "criminal record" is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. A jury found defendant guilty of misdemeanor grand theft (Pen. Code, § 484e, subd. (d)) and felony fraudulent possession of personal information (Pen. Code, § 530.5, subd. (c)(3)). The trial court placed defendant on probation for three years and, as relevant here, imposed a probation condition forbidding him from associating with any persons known to him to have a "criminal record." Defendant appealed. Held: Probation condition reversed. The right of association is constitutional but "may be restricted…

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Name: Hulbert v. Cross
Case #: C090663
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/11/2021

In a medical malpractice action filed by an indigent inmate, the trial court denied the plaintiff meaningful access to the courts when it refused his motion for appointment of an expert. Hulbert, a self-represented indigent inmate, filed a medical malpractice case against Dr. Cross, alleging negligence in performing surgery. To establish his claim, Hulbert requested appointment of a medical expert and legal counsel. The trial court denied his motion, finding no authority in support of the request. It granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment because Hulbert had failed to rebut the declaration submitted by the defendant's medical expert regarding…

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Name: People v. Superior Court (O.G.)
Case #: S259011
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/25/2021

Opinion By: Justice Groban (unanimous decision)
Senate Bill No. 1391, which eliminated the ability to prosecute juveniles accused of committing crimes when they were 14 or 15 years old in adult criminal court (subject to a limited exception), is a valid amendment of Proposition 57. Days after the passage of SB 1391, the Ventura County District Attorney's Office filed a petition in juvenile court alleging that the minor O.G. committed two counts of murder and other offenses when he was 15 years old. They simultaneously filed a transfer motion to adult court. The juvenile court found SB 1391, which…

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Name: Daws v. Superior Court (People)
Case #: A157383
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/14/2019

Trial courts have inherent authority to determine by local rule or as a matter of courtroom practice what "proper notice" under Penal Code section 1382 means, so long as a defendant's speedy trial rights are protected. In November 2018, Daws was charged with misdemeanor offenses. At arraignment he gave a time waiver. At a pretrial conference, Daw's attorney gave verbal notice that Daws was withdrawing his time waiver and invoking his speedy trial right. The trial court rejected his request, explaining that two days written notice to the prosecution was required before withdrawing a time waiver in open court. No…

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Name: Timbs v. Indiana
Case #: 17-1091
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 02/20/2019
Subsequent History: 139 S.Ct. 682

The Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause is an "incorporated" protection applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to drug charges. Indiana sought civil forfeiture of his vehicle, valued at $42,000, which was over four times the maximum fine for his offense. The trial court found the forfeiture would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the offense and therefore unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed, holding the clause constrains only federal action and is inapplicable to state…

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Name: People v. Dueñas
Case #: B285645
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 01/08/2019

Due process requires a trial court to conduct an ability to pay hearing and ascertain a defendant's present ability to pay before it imposes court facilities and court operations assessments. Dueñas, an indigent and homeless mother of two young children, suffered several misdemeanor convictions for driving with a suspended license after her license was suspended for failure to pay $1,088 stemming from three juvenile citations. In the present case, Dueñas again pleaded no contest to driving with a suspended license and was placed on probation. She was assessed a $300 fine, plus a penalty and assessment, but given the option…

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