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Name: People v. Casillas
Case #: B298388
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/04/2021

A defendant's immigration status and deportation history may be admissible if relevant to the issue of motive. On the afternoon of May 5, 2010, Casillas pointed a firearm at a civilian motorist; on May 6, 2010, around 1:30 a.m., Casillas shot at a deputy sheriff during a traffic stop. The prosecution argued to the jury that Casillas' immigration status was motive for shooting the deputy, as he had twice been deported and was facing up to 20 years in prison if found in the United States. The jury convicted Casillas of attempted premeditated murder, assault on a peace officer,…

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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: B305783
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 06/14/2021

The trial court abused its discretion in concealing the names of prospective jurors from counsel, but the error was harmless. Lopez was charged with murder (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a)) and gross vehicular manslaughter (§ 191.5, subd. (a)) for crashing into a parked car while driving under the influence of alcohol and killing the sole occupant. During voir dire, the trial court withheld from the attorneys the names of prospective jurors, identifying them only by their badge number, out of a concern the attorneys or a member of the public or press would obtain additional information about the jurors…

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Name: People v. Lund
Case #: A157205
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 06/01/2021

Officers' reliance on software program's data to connect defendant to hard drives containing child pornography files did not violate Sanchez. At defendant's trial for possessing more than 600 images of child pornography, two police investigators testified that they used a software program called Child Protection System (CPS), commonly used among law enforcement agencies, to search peer-to-peer networks for child pornography. During this investigation, the officers observed one user, identified by a specific ID number created by the peer-to-peer network, who possessed several suspect files. The officers surveilled a business associated with one of the user's IP addresses and observed defendant,…

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Name: People v. Veamatahau
Case #: S249872
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/27/2020

Expert's testimony that he used on an online pharmaceutical database to determine that pills seized from defendant contained a controlled substance was not inadmissible case-specific hearsay. Defendant was charged with a number of offenses, including possession of a controlled substance, alprazolam (Xanax). At defendant's trial, a criminalist testified that he identified tablets taken from defendant by comparing their visual characteristics against a database containing descriptions of pharmaceuticals. Defendant appealed his conviction, asserting the testimony violated the prohibition in People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, 686, against expert communication of case-specific hearsay. The Court of Appeal affirmed. Review was granted.…

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Name: People v. Coneal
Case #: A152529
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 11/06/2019

Admission into evidence of rap videos that had minimal probative value and contained violent, inflammatory lyrics was an abuse of discretion, but harmless error. Coneal was convicted of first degree murder, and the jury found true gang allegations. On appeal Coneal challenged the admission of five rap videos featuring him and/or members of his gang. Held: Affirmed. Gang evidence is admissible if it is logically relevant to some material issue in the case other than character evidence, is not more prejudicial than probative, and is not cumulative. It is inadmissible if introduced only to show a defendant's criminal propensity or…

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Name: People v. Guzman
Case #: S242244
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/05/2019

The exclusionary remedy set forth in Penal Code section 632, subdivision (d) was superseded by Proposition 8, and did not render the secret recording of a witness inadmissible at defendant's criminal trial. Defendant was charged with two counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act upon a child, based upon inappropriate touching of E.F. and M.M. The prosecution sought to introduce a recording of a phone conversation between M.M.'s mother and defendant's niece, in which the niece made damaging statements about defendant. Defendant argued the recording was inadmissible under section 632, subdivision (d), because it was made without…

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Name: People v. Felix
Case #: C079382
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/16/2019

Trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence of a prior crime the defendant and codefendant committed together to show defendant's knowledge of his codefendant's violent propensities. Felix got into an argument with several employees at a bar. As the employees were leaving work that night, Felix and his codefendant Jones confronted the employees and a fight ensued in which Jones stabbed one of the employees. Felix was prosecuted under two theories of attempted murder: straight aiding and abetting, and aiding and abetting under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. He was convicted of attempted murder…

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Name: People v. McDaniel
Case #: F075749
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/16/2019

Admission of text exchange between defendant and his mother, in which he did not respond to her indirect accusation that he committed a series of robberies, was improperly admitted as an adoptive admission. After soliciting information from the public regarding a series of robberies of retail stores and restaurants in 2014, police received a tip that defendant was a possible suspect. Police obtained a search warrant for defendant's house and car. They found clothing and other items similar to materials worn by the perpetrator and used in the robberies. A jury found defendant guilty of nine robberies and the trial…

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Name: People v. Calhoun
Case #: G055511
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/09/2019

Evidence of a human trafficking victim's prostitution activity that occurred after defendant's arrest for trafficking was inadmissible for impeachment purposes. Defendant recruited 13-year-old D.T., a runaway, as a prostitute, acted as her pimp, and had sex with her. He was convicted of human trafficking of a minor under the age of 16, lewd acts on a minor, pandering a minor, and other offenses. On appeal defendant argued the trial court erred by excluding evidence of D.T.'s prostitution activity that occurred after defendant was arrested. Held: Affirmed. Evidence of sexual history or any commercial sexual act committed by victims of human…

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Name: People v. Julian
Case #: B289613
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/29/2019

Inadmissible statistical evidence went beyond the permissible scope of CSAAS evidence. At Julian's trial for various charges of child molestation, prosecution witness Anthony Urquiza, a clinical psychologist, testified about the child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) theory and statistical data suggesting that false allegations of sexual abuse by children are very infrequent or rare. Julian's trial counsel did not object to this testimony. Julian was convicted as charged, and he appealed. Held: Reversed and remanded for new trial. It is improper for an expert providing CSAAS testimony to present "predictive conclusions," such as alleged child abuse victims "should be believed"…

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