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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. Suazo (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 681
Case #: F082140
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/19/2023

A predrinking intent to drive is not required before a jury may find implied malice supporting a second degree Watson murder (People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290). Defendant, while intoxicated, drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed off the highway and into an area occupied by an adjacent tractor supply business. When the vehicle hit agricultural equipment the passenger was ejected and killed. Defendant fled. He was convicted of second degree implied malice Watson murder, as well as other counts. He appealed. Held: Remanded for resentencing. Defendant contended the evidence was insufficient to support his murder conviction,…

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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. Stringer
Case #: D073877
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/07/2019

Jury instruction for aggravated kidnapping prejudicially allowed conviction under the legally invalid theory that defendant kidnapped to exact money or something valuable from the kidnap victim. A jury convicted Stringer of aggravated kidnapping (Pen. Code, § 209, subd. (a)) and other offenses. On appeal, Stringer argued the jury instructions given as to aggravated kidnapping permitted the jury to find him guilty of the offenses on a legally invalid basis. Held: Aggravated kidnapping convictions reversed. Section 209, subdivision (a) describes four types of aggravated kidnapping: (1) for ransom; (2) for reward; (3) to commit extortion; and (4) to exact from another…

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Name: People v. Meza
Case #: E070015
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/14/2019

Where prosecutor requested jury instruction on a time-barred lesser included offense, defendant did not forfeit his statute of limitations challenge despite failure to object in the trial court. In 2014, defendant assaulted his daughter on the street and was charged with felony child endangerment in 2016. At trial, the prosecutor submitted a list of requested jury instructions, including an instruction on the lesser included offense of misdemeanor child endangerment. When the court asked if both parties accepted the instructions, defense counsel said yes. The trial court instructed the jury on the lesser included offense, but did not…

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Name: People v. Bates
Case #: C086471
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/07/2019

Because the defendant was unaware of the victim's prior threatening conduct, such conduct was not relevant to show defendant's state of mind for purposes of self-defense. During defendant's murder trial, several witnesses testified about past events in which the victim made threats and brandished a gun in a menacing manner. There was no evidence that defendant knew about these threats prior to the homicide. Defendant requested a self-defense instruction specifically stating that the jury could consider the victim's past threats or harm to defendant or others in deciding whether the defendant's conduct and beliefs were reasonable. The trial court denied…

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Name: People v. Ahmed
Case #: A149066
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/19/2018

A city or county ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries does not abrogate the medical marijuana defense in a prosecution under state criminal law. Ahmed operated a medical marijuana business in Livermore, which has a municipal ordinance that prohibits marijuana dispensaries. After an investigation that included undercover officers purchasing marijuana from Ahmed's dispensary, he was arrested. Prior to his trial on various marijuana charges, the trial court granted the prosecution's motion to preclude Ahmed from presenting a medical marijuana defense based upon Livermore's ordinance. In granting the motion, the trial court relied on City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health…

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Name: People v. Brown
Case #: A144372
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/23/2018

For purposes of extending the statute of limitations for certain sex offenses (former Pen. Code, § 803, subd. (g)), a report of sexual abuse made to law enforcement by a person or agency other than the victim does not constitute a report by the victim, even if that report is based on the victim's allegations of abuse. In December 2012, when she was 32 years old, Jane Doe told police that Brown sexually abused her over the course of two years when she was a minor. Doe's mother had previously reported the abuse to police in 1994 when…

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Name: People v. Berg
Case #: H043511
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/25/2018

Trial court properly excluded evidence of defendant's voluntary intoxication because he was charged with possessing a controlled substance in jail, which is a general intent crime. Berg was charged with knowingly possessing methamphetamine in a jail (Pen. Code, § 4573.6) after a search conducted two days following his misdemeanor arrest for public intoxication. At trial, the prosecution moved to exclude testimony about Berg's intoxication at the time of his arrest. Berg argued that the intoxication evidence was relevant to his ability to be aware of the presence of contraband and that the jury should be allowed to determine how intoxication…

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Name: People v. Jackson
Case #: E065757
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/17/2018

Trial court's finding that defendant was competent to stand trial at the time of his plea and at sentencing was not supported by substantial evidence. Jackson was charged with lewd acts on a minor in San Bernardino County. A doubt was declared as to his competency and criminal proceedings were suspended. Jackson was declared incompetent to stand trial and committed to Patton State Hospital (Pen. Code, § 1370). The hospital staff found he suffered from mild mental retardation, had a limited capacity to understand legal proceedings, and was unlikely to become competent. However, hospital staff changed their mind in one…

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