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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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Name: People v. Carney (2023) 14 Cal.5th 1130
Case #: S260063
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 07/20/2023

Opinion by: Justice Jenkins (unanimous decision)

A defendant’s life-threatening deadly acts in a gun battle may be the proximate cause of a bystander’s death, even where someone else fired the fatal shot. A jury convicted two brothers (the Mitchells) of first degree murder and other offenses based on evidence they initiated a gun battle with Carney and others outside a barbershop in the middle of the day. During the public shootout, a stray shot by Carney killed a bystander. On appeal, the Mitchells argued that, because the fatal shot was fired by Carney, their actions were not a proximate cause of…

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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: People v. Gaines (2023) 93 Cal.App.5th 91 (and People v. Ross)
Case #: F083168, F083228
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/15/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 7/5/2023

The offenses of discharging a firearm from a vehicle, and permitting another person to discharge a firearm from a vehicle, do not require that the shooter be inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting. At a store, Gaines and Ross exchanged words with a man who was with his girlfriend and her children. After leaving the store, Gaines drove his vehicle in search of the man, who was walking on the sidewalk with his girlfriend and children. Gaines stopped the car while Ross got out and shot at the individuals. Defendants were convicted of numerous offenses including shooting…

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Name: People v. Madrigal (2023) 93 Cal.App.5th 219
Case #: H046577
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/06/2023

Retroactive application of Senate Bill No. 1437 entitled defendant to reversal of first degree murder conviction, where the jury was not instructed on the new elements of felony-murder. Madrigal was among a group of four or five men who got out of a van and attacked and robbed a man on a sidewalk. One of the attackers stabbed the victim, who died soon after. The court instructed the jury on three theories of first degree murder, including felony murder in the commission of a robbery. The prosecutor conceded in closing there was no reliable evidence of who stabbed the victim.…

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Name: Counterman v. Colorado (2023) __ U.S. __ [143 S.Ct. 2106]
Case #: 22-138
Court: US Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 06/27/2023

Majority opinion: Justice Kagan delivered the opinion of the court, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, and Jackson joined.
Concurring opinion: Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Gorsuch joined in part.
Dissenting opinions: Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Thomas joined.

In a prosecution based on true threats, the First Amendment requires proof of the defendant’s subjective mens rea—the prosecution must show he consciously disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence. A jury…

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Name: People v. Reyes (2023) 14 Cal.5th 981
Case #: S270723
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 06/29/2023

Opinion by: Justice Liu (unanimous decision)

Trial court’s conclusion that Penal Code section 1170.95 (now 1172.6) petitioner’s second degree murder conviction was sustainable on a direct perpetrator theory was not supported by substantial evidence. After traveling with fellow gang members on bikes to rival gang territory, Reyes was present when Lopez shot and killed a person. Reyes was convicted of second degree murder with gang and firearm enhancements. He later filed a petition for resentencing under section 1172.6, arguing that he was convicted of murder under the now-invalid natural and probable consequences theory. After a (d)(3) hearing, the trial court denied…

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Name: People v. Lewis (2023) 14 Cal.5th 876
Case #: S272627
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/22/2023

Majority opinion: Chief Justice Guerrero authored the opinion of the Court, in which Justices Corrigan, Liu, Kruger, Groban, Jenkins, and Evans concurred.
Concurring opinion: Justice Kruger filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Groban concurred.

The force requirement for kidnapping is relaxed when the victim is an intoxicated adult—a defendant acting with an illegal intent or purpose may be liable for kidnapping if he uses physical force to move a person who is unable to consent due to intoxication. A jury convicted defendant of raping S.D. while she was intoxicated and kidnapping S.D. to commit rape. The evidence showed defendant met…

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Name: People v. Waqa (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 565
Case #: A163761
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/14/2023

There was insufficient evidence of asportation to support the jury’s aggravated kidnapping finding under the One Strike law where the rape victim was moved from one bathroom stall to another. A jury convicted defendant of forcible rape after he sexually assaulted a woman in a public restroom. Because he moved the victim from the restroom’s small stall to its large stall before raping her, the jury also found true an aggravated kidnapping circumstance under the One Strike law (Pen. Code, § 667.61), requiring a sentence of 25 years to life. Defendant appealed. Held: Sentence modified. Under the One Strike law,…

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