Skip to content
Name: People v. Thomas
Case #: B298946
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 05/28/2021

Defendant who was convicted of felony murder before the effective date of Senate Bill No. 1437, but not sentenced until after the law took effect, was entitled to the retroactive benefits of changes in the murder law on direct appeal. Thomas was convicted of murder and other offenses based on a gang-related shooting. Prior to sentencing, he made a motion for a new trial based on SB 1437's changes to the murder law. His motion was denied. On appeal, he argued the motion was wrongly denied because SB 1437 took effect prior to his sentencing and rendered his felony murder…

View Full Summary
Name: Assn. for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs v. Superior Court
Case #: S243855
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/26/2019

Opinion by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye (unanimous decision).

A law enforcement agency's "Brady list" is confidential to the extent that officers are included on the list based on information obtained from confidential personnel records. In 2016, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (the Department) informed roughly 300 deputy sheriffs in the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (the Association) that their names may be provided to prosecutorial agencies on a "Brady list" because a review of their personnel records had identified potential exculpatory or impeachment information. The Association obtained a preliminary injunction preventing the Department from disclosing the identity…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Frandsen
Case #: B280329
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 04/04/2019

Second degree felony murder rule is not unconstitutionally vague under Johnson v. United States (2015) _U.S._[135 S.Ct. 2551]. Frandsen and several others held two victims hostage at Huang's house because they believed the victims had stolen marijuana from Huang. Frandsen and Huang were the only ones present when the victims were killed. After his third trial, Frandsen was convicted of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. He appealed, arguing the second degree felony murder rule is unconstitutionally vague. Held: Affirmed. In Johnson, the U.S. Supreme…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Jimenez
Case #: D073313
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/21/2019

Defendant's motion for new trial was properly denied because a police report used by the prosecution at sentencing, implicating defendant in an unrelated shooting, was not Brady material and there was not a reasonable probability of a different result on retrial. Jimenez led officers on a high-speed chase with two children in the car. At one point, he drove straight toward a marked patrol vehicle, causing the officers to swerve at the last moment to avoid collision. A jury convicted Jimenez of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, two counts of felony child abuse, and evading a…

View Full Summary
Name: IAR Systems Software, Inc. v. Superior Court
Case #: A149087
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/05/2017

Private law firm representing company pursuing civil suit against defendant while criminal charges are pending is not part of the prosecution team for purposes of Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, absent evidence of an agency-type relationship. IAR filed civil charges against its CEO, Shehayed, after uncovering evidence he embezzled funds. Thereafter, the district attorney filed criminal charges. During discovery, Shehayed requested an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Valla (the law firm representing crime victim IAR) had to comply with Brady, notwithstanding its attorney-client privilege. After the hearing, the court found Valla was part of…

View Full Summary
Name: Zapien v. Martel
Case #: 09-99023
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/09/2015

No clearly established U.S. Supreme Court precedent supported defendant's claim that the prosecution's destruction of a defense audio tape with attorney-client work product violated his due process rights. During Zapien's special circumstance murder trial, the prosecutor and his investigator discovered a sealed envelope with Zapien's trial counsel's name written on the outside. It contained an audio tape explaining the defense's strengths and weaknesses. The prosecutor told the investigator to listen to the tape, but the investigator said he destroyed it instead. Zapien's counsel moved for a dismissal, which the trial court denied. The jury convicted Zapien and sentenced him to…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Lewis
Case #: A143106
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/09/2015

Prosecution's failure to disclose impeachment evidence regarding arresting officer did not violate Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 because the evidence was not material. Lewis was convicted of vehicle theft and evading a peace officer. During trial, he filed a Brady motion seeking impeachment information regarding the arresting officer, Switzer, because the defense discovered he was on administrative leave when it attempted to subpoena him as a witness. The trial court denied the motion. Switzer did not testify. Following his conviction, Lewis moved for a new trial on his conviction for evasion after finding that Switzer pleaded no…

View Full Summary
Name: Comstock v. Humphries
Case #: 14-15311
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/12/2015

Defendant was entitled to federal habeas relief where prosecutor did not disclose evidence that the victim was unsure whether property had actually been stolen. Comstock was convicted in 2004 of possessing stolen property, a ring, which he had pawned. At trial, he argued that the ring was not stolen, but was found outside the victim's apartment. Comstock received a 10-25 year sentence under Nevada's habitual offender statute. Street, the owner of the ring, wrote in a presentencing statement that he remembered taking the ring off outside his apartment and placing it on the ground, and did not recall putting it…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Christensen
Case #: G048615
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/10/2014

Child molest victim diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome was unavailable to testify at defendant's second trial because the witness would suffer substantial trauma if he was required to testify again. Appellant was charged with multiple counts of lewd acts against two children, Spencer S. and Joshua K. (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a)). At his first trial, the jury convicted appellant of the charges involving Spencer, but deadlocked with respect to the charges involving Joshua. At his second trial, appellant was convicted of the counts pertaining to Joshua, and a lewd act against a third child, Zachary. The jury…

View Full Summary
Name: Deck v. Jenkins
Case #: 13-55130
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/29/2014

Conviction for attempted lewd act on child reversed where prosecutor misstated intent required for crime during argument. Deck, a California Highway Patrol officer, was convicted of attempted lewd act on a minor, after he was caught in an Internet sting operation. The State court affirmed his conviction and he sought federal habeas relief on the ground of prosecutorial misconduct. Held: Reversed. Deck's jury was instructed regarding the California law of attempted lewd act on a child. His defense was that he lacked the mental intent to engage in a lewd act on the date he arranged to meet with the…

View Full Summary