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Name: People v. Serrano (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1324
Case #: A166011
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 03/28/2024

Sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding that defendant acted with premeditation and deliberation where he methodically pumped and aimed a shotgun at two peace officers. Serrano went on a crime spree that culminated in his shooting a rifle at two uniformed officers who approached him following a car crash. He was found guilty by jury of two counts of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer, among other crimes. Serrano appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence supporting the findings of premeditation and deliberation. Held: Affirmed. After the considering the categories of evidence set forth in People v. Anderson (1968) 70…

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Name: People v. Lewis (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 349
Case #: G060049
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/07/2024

Substantial evidence supports defendant’s conviction for kidnapping an intoxicated woman to commit rape under the relaxed force standard applicable to incapacitated adults. Opinion on remand from the California Supreme Court. A jury convicted Lewis of rape by an intoxicating substance and kidnapping to commit rape based on evidence that he drugged a woman (S.D.) at a bar and then sexually assaulted her after they left the bar. In People v. Lewis (2023) 14 Cal.5th 876, 884, the Supreme Court concluded the relaxed force standard for kidnapping applicable to children (i.e., the use of deception rather than actual force) applies to…

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Name: People v. Killian (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 191
Case #: H050320, H050557
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/20/2024
Subsequent History: Ordered published 3/5/2024

Notwithstanding the plural language stated in Vehicle Code section 10802, which criminalizes vehicle identification number (VIN) tampering, the section may be violated by tampering with a single, as opposed to multiple, VIN’s. Defendant purchased a 2012 F-150 truck to drive back to California. Soon after he arrived, the truck’s engine failed. He testified that he then got a “pretty great deal” on a 2010 F-150, which turned out to be stolen. Defendant admitted he took the VIN plate from his 2012 truck and put it over the VIN plate of the stolen 2010 truck. He testified he was trying to save…

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Name: People v. Buckner (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 724
Case #: A162304
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/30/2023

Because defendant was living in his house on the day he set it on fire, substantial evidence supports the jury’s conclusion that the house was inhabited at the time of the fire. A jury convicted Buckner of arson of an inhabited dwelling structure. On appeal, he argued substantial evidence did not support his conviction because there was no evidence that he intended to live in his home after the fire. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 450 defines “inhabited” for purposes of the arson statutes as “currently being used for dwelling purposes whether occupied or not.” The Court of Appeal reviewed…

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Name: People v. Nunez (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 362
Case #: G061346
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 11/20/2023

Provocation to reduce first degree murder to second degree murder must come from the victim, not a third party. After hearing a rumor that the victim had raped a child, and being encouraged to exact revenge, defendants Gallegos and Nunez chased and beat the victim with metal pipes, and Gallegos stabbed him with a knife six times. In response to a jury question, the trial court instructed that in order for provocation to reduce first degree murder to second degree murder, the provocation must come from the victim, not a third party. Gallegos was convicted of first degree murder and related…

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Name: People v. Hupp (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 946
Case #: E079389, E079543
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/25/2023

A judge is not an “executive officer” within the meaning of Penal Code section 69. A jury convicted defendant of four counts of violating section 69 (threatening an executive officer) based on threatening statements he made to four judges. On appeal, he argued that as a matter of law, he could not be liable under section 69 because a judge is not an “executive officer” within the plain meaning of the term. Held: Reversed. Section 69 makes it a crime to attempt to deter, by means of any threat, an executive officer from the performance of a legal duty. The issue of whether…

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Name: People v. Morones (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 721
Case #: C095560
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/19/2023

As a matter of law, the evidence could not sustain convictions for preventing or dissuading a report to law enforcement (Pen. Code, § 136.1(b)(1)), where the witnesses had reported the criminal conduct to law enforcement prior to the defendant suggesting the witnesses lie. After discharging a firearm out of a bathroom window while his two children were home, defendant was charged with negligent discharge of a firearm and felony child endangerment. While in jail, defendant spoke with his two children by phone multiple times, encouraging them to lie and say they never saw a firearm. The prosecutor filed an amended…

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Name: People v. Mumin (2023) 15 Cal.5th 176
Case #: S271049
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 08/17/2023

Opinion by: Justice Corrigan, joined by Acting Chief Justice Jenkins, Justice Kruger, Justice Groban, and Associate Justice Robie from the Third District (assigned by the Chief Justice). Justice Liu filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Evans concurred.

The proper standard of review when a defendant challenges a trial court’s decision to instruct on a “kill zone” theory as applied to an allegation of attempted murder is whether substantial evidence supports giving the challenged instruction. Defendant was convicted of two counts of attempted murder of a police officer under the kill zone theory, among other charges. He appealed, and the Court…

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Name: People v. Moyer (2023) 94 Cal.App.5th 999
Case #: H049408
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/25/2023

Under the Penal Code’s definition of “bribe,” a promise to make a payment to a third party or entity may constitute a bribe. In 2020, a grand jury indicted the Santa Clara County Undersheriff and Captain for soliciting bribes, and Moyer (Apple’s head of global security) with bribing an executive officer. The indictment was based on evidence the Undersheriff and Captain issued concealed carry weapon (CCW) licenses (which were rarely issued) to Apple’s executive protection team after Moyer offered to donate $50,000 worth of iPads to the Sherriff’s Office. Moyer moved to dismiss the count against him and the trial…

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Name: People v. Schuller (2023) 15 Cal.5th 237
Case #: S272237
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 08/17/2023

Opinion by: Justice Groban (unanimous decision). Justice Liu filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Evans concurred.

When a defendant presents substantial evidence of imperfect self-defense, the trial court’s failure to instruct on that theory precludes the jury from making a factual finding essential to prove the malice element of murder, and results in federal constitutional error. Schuller was convicted of first degree murder and found sane at the time of the killing. On appeal he argued the trial court’s refusal to instruct on imperfect self-defense was federal constitutional error. The Court of Appeal agreed the trial court erred in failing…

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