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Name: People v. Mendoza
Case #: S067104
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/31/2000
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied 9/13/00

Mendoza and his codefendant, Valle, were charged with murder committed during the course of a robbery, in violation of Penal Code section 189. The defendants were also charged with the robbery, and a special circumstance that the murder was committed during the course of a robbery. The separate juries convicted on the murder and robbery, and found the special circumstances to be true. Neither jury's verdict specified the degree of murder, though they had been instructed only on first degree felony-murder. Penal Code section 1157 provides that where a defendant is convicted of a crime which…

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Name: People v. Giardino
Case #: E023991
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/20/2000
Subsequent History: None

The trial court erred by failing to explain to the jury the meaning of "prevented from resisting." After deliberating for several hours, the jury asked the court for the legal definition of "resisting." Defense counsel asked for an instruction, but the court did not elaborate further, referring the jury to their original instructions. This was prejudicial error. The language of the statute was insufficient, and the jury was understandably having difficulty understanding the definition. The jury was entitled to have that concept explained, particularly after they requested clarification. The court should have instructed the…

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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: B135269
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 07/25/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 11/15/00

The prosecution here proceeded against appellant on two theories of second degree murder: second degree felony murder predicated on a violation of Vehicle Code section 2800.3, evasion of a police officer which proximately causes death or bodily injury, and implied malice murder. The jury was instructed that it need not agree on the theory of murder. The prosecutor erroneously argued to the jury that the killing could be accidental or intentional, and that he did not have to prove any intent as to the injury or death that was caused. However, the Court of Appeal held that…

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Name: People v. Hill
Case #: S077706
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/27/2000
Subsequent History: None

The trial court erred in finding the evidence insufficient to support appellant's separate conviction for kidnaping as to a seven-month old baby where he was also convicted of the same offense against the baby's mother. The California Supreme Court held that the taking of the child need not be for an illegal purpose because the taking of the car, which was the main offense, was for an illegal purpose directed not only at the driver, but at any passenger. The court explicitly did not decide whether force or fear had to be shown because when appellant forced the…

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Name: People v. Cox
Case #: S070959
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/10/2000
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied 8/9/00

The involuntary manslaughter instruction given here was incorrect insofar as it informed the jury that misdemeanor battery is an inherently dangerous offense in the abstract. Because this instruction removed from the jury the question of the dangerousness of the predicate misdemeanor battery under the circumstances of its commission, it permitted conviction where the jury may have only found appellant committed the battery with general criminal intent. Because this error is subject to a harmless error analysis, and the Court of Appeal did not pass on the question of whether such an erroneous instruction prejudiced the verdict, the court…

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Name: Solis v. Garcia
Case #: 98-56219
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/12/2000
Subsequent History: None

After expanding the Certificate of Appealability to all three issues raised in this federal habeas action, the appellate court denied the habeas petition because the jury instructions did not allow the jury to convict Solis of murder without finding that he acted with the requisite intent to aid and abet the predicate crime. While the instructions did not define the elements of the predicate crime, the instructions did require the jury to find that Solis had knowledge of the principal's unlawful purpose, had intent to encourage or facilitate the commission of the crime, and aided, promoted or encouraged the…

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Name: People v. Sanchez
Case #: S066991
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/05/2001
Subsequent History: None

The offense of gross vehicular manslaughter, Penal Code section 191.5, subdivision (a), is not a lesser included offense of murder because the statutory elements of murder do not include the elements of the lesser offense which require that the homicide have been committed "in the driving of a vehicle" and that the driving was in violation of a specified Vehicle Code provisions prohibiting driving while intoxicated. While manslaughter has, historically, been considered a necessarily included offense within murder, that tradition has not been extended to the more recently enacted forms of vehicular manslaughter that require proof of additional elements.…

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Name: People v. Valentine
Case #: B109409
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 11/21/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. denied 2/27/02.

Threatened hardship to the victim or her family is not a form of duress which will support a conviction for forcible sexual offenses under Penal Code sections 288 and 289. The court based much of its reasoning on the fact that in 1994, the Legislature amended relevant statutes by deleting the word "hardship" from the statutory list of types of pressure which elevated the offense to a forcible one. Here, the perpetrator was the victim’s stepfather, and the prosecutor argued his threats to leave the home (depriving her brothers of a father figure and her mother of…

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Name: In re John Z.
Case #: C036210
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/30/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 2/20/02: S103427

In this opinion the Third DCA agreed with the First DCA’s opinion in People v. Roundtree (2000) 77 Cal. App. 4th 846, and rejected the Fifth DCA’s opinion in People v. Vela (1985) 172 Cal. App. 3d 237, and held that the crime of forcible rape could be committed where the victim consents to the initial penetration, but then withdraws her consent during intercourse. Here, assuming that the victim’s conduct was so equivocal that it could have been interpreted as consent by appellant when he initiated sexual intercourse with her, there was substantial evidence that she withdrew her consent…

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Name: People v. Shadden
Case #: B147302
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 10/25/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. denied 1/16/02.

The movement of the victim from the front counter of a video store to a back room nine feet away was sufficient to sustain a conviction for kidnapping to commit rape. The movement was not simply incidental to the rape, and it increased the risk of harm above that necessarily present in the rape. Here the defendant moved the victim out of public view and closed the door, increasing the risk of…

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