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Name: People v. Zurinaga
Case #: B184288
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/26/2007

The 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution is violated when a prosecutor's conduct infects the trial with such unfairness as to make the conviction a violation of due process. Conduct that does not render a criminal trial fundamentally unfair is misconduct under state law if it involves the use of deceptive or reprehensible methods to persuade either the court or jury. Because the prosecutor represents the state which has an obligation to be fair, he is held to a higher standard than other attorneys. The prosecutor in this case committed misconduct when at closing he analogized the…

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Name: People v. Jenan
Case #: F048121
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/20/2006

An order recusing the entire district attorney's office was proper where the attorney who witnessed the charged crime would testify at trial. The two defendants were charged with offenses related to their alleged attempts to dissuade an investigator from the Tulare County district attorney’s office from testifying at a prior criminal proceeding. A deputy district attorney was a witness to the events leading to the charges; the communications at issue were also tape recorded. Prior to trial the defendants successfully moved to recuse the entire district attorney’s office, over objection by the Attorney General. The…

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Name: United States v. Weatherspoon
Case #: 03-10551
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/06/2005

A prosecutor who improperly vouched for law enforcement witnesses committed prejudicial misconduct. The majority opinion held that a prosecutor need not imply to the jury that he has private knowledge in support of the credibility of the witness; simply telling the jury that the witness had no reason to lie constituted improper vouching. The court stressed that the ethical bar was higher for prosecutors than for defense attorneys in this regard. Because the evidence of guilt was not overwhelming, the error was not…

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Name: In re Aguilar
Case #: S099667
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 09/23/2004

An attorney who signs up for oral argument must appear, or be held in contempt. When an attorney is aware of an order requiring his or her appearance in court, and the attorney has the ability to appear but knowingly and intentionally does not appear, that attorney has willfully neglected or failed to appear, and a contempt judgment is then appropriate absent a valid and persuasive excuse or justification for the attorney’s nonappearance. This case involved two attorneys, Aguilar and Kent. Kent was employed by Aguilar’s firm and assigned to a case in which the firm was attorney…

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Name: In re White
Case #: C046677
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/01/2004

Where an attorney who was retained by inmates filed three frivolous habeas petitions with no chance of success, prepared by law students or other lawyers working in a "writ mill," the appellate court sanctioned the attorney by ordering him to return the money he received from the clients, and pay monetary sanctions to the…

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Name: In re Salazar
Case #: B137034
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 08/05/2003
Subsequent History: Rehrg. den. 8/27/03; Rev. granted 11/25/03: S119066

A Brady (Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83) violation occurred where supervisors in the district attorney's office were aware that evidence existed which could be used to impeach the pathologist who performed the autopsy on the infant who was the murder victim and whose opinion as to time of infliction of the injury established a crucial timeline as to who had custody of the infant. Specifically, in other cases (including one nearly identical to this one, which involved a head injury to an infant and timelines establishing potential perpetrators), the doctor had changed his opinion as to…

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Name: Mansell v. Otto
Case #: B155418
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 04/29/2003
Subsequent History: Modified & Petn. rehrg. denied 5/29/03

A crime victim sued the alleged perpetrator and his criminal defense counsel for invasion of privacy based on the unauthorized reading of her mental health records by the defendant and other members of the defense team. The court held that plaintiff could not state a claim because the defendants obtained the medical and psychiatric records through the court’ s normal processes. In response to a court order (after defense counse had unsuccessfully tried to subpoena the records), the hospital sent the records to the court, which released them to the prosecution, who in turn provided them to the…

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Name: McClure v. Thompson
Case #: 01-35593
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 04/02/2003

On a state prisoner’s appeal from the denial of his habeas corpus petition, the court held that the Oregon state court decisions denying him post-conviction relief did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law in finding no ineffective assistance of counsel in the days following his arrest. The petitioner was arrested when his fingerprints had been found in the blood of a dead woman who had been hit multiple times with a blunt object. He was also held in connection with the disappearance of two of the woman’s daughters. He retained counsel who spoke with him several…

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Name: People v. Craig
Case #: C009301
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/27/1991
Subsequent History: Rehg. denied 10/25/91.

In the published portion of the opinion, Presiding Justice Puglia castigates the appointed counsel bar for repeatedly raising arguments that are not merely frivolous, but "utterly hopeless" as well. Implied plea bargain argument is utterly devoid of…

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Name: Hambarian v. Superior Court of Orange County
Case #: S097450
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/18/2002
Subsequent History: Rehrg. den. 6/12/02

The trial court properly declined to disqualify the prosecutor’s office, which had accepted the services of a forensic accountant employed and compensated by the City, who allegedly had been defrauded by its trash collection company. The entire complex of facts must be reviewed to determine whether the convict make fair and impartial treatment of defendant unlikely. Despite the fact that the accountant had been paid over $450,000 by the City, the court distinquished this case from People v. Eubanks (1996) 14 Cal.4th 580, where the district attorney had already incurred expenses of $13,000 and then asked the victim…

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