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Name: Su Chia v. Cambra
Case #: 99-56361
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/04/2004
Subsequent History: None

Chia was convicted of being an accomplice to the murders of two DEA agents, and participating in a conspiracy to rob and kill the agents. Chia claimed that he had tried to talk one of the co-conspirators, Wang, out of the plot. Wang confirmed to the authorities that Chia had nothing to do with the conspiracy, but the trial court excluded these statements from the jury. The appellate court here reversed the denial of Chia's habeas petition. The trial court's decision to exclude reliable material evidence of Chia's innocence constituted an objectively unreasonable application of clearly…

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Name: People v. Adams
Case #: H024504
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/27/2004
Subsequent History: 2/5/04: opn modified without chg in jmt; Rev. den. 4/14/04

The trial court properly excluded third-party culpability evidence and properly admitted DNA testing results even though the DNA was obtained without reasonable suspicion or a warrant. After DNA evidence obtained in 2001 connected the defendant to a twenty-year-old murder case, he was convicted by a jury of murder with special circumstances. In affirming his conviction, the court of appeal held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding third party culpability evidence, where much of the evidence was irrelevant and cumulative of other evidence that could have linked a third party to the crime. …

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Name: People v. Robinson
Case #: B149425
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 07/28/2003
Subsequent History: Rev. granted & transferred back to COA 11/25/03 in light of People v. Yeoman (2003) 31 Cal.4th 93

During voir dire in appellant's trial for capital murder, the defendant contended that the prosecutor's peremptory challenge of three black jurors was racially biased. The court stated that it could understand two of the challenges, but not the third, and called upon the prosecutor to give his reasons for excusing only the third juror. The prosecutor contended that he excused the juror because she worked in a religious profession (a jail chaplain) and therefore might be too sympathetic to defendants. The trial court accepted the explanation as objective. On appeal, appellant contended that excusing a juror…

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Name: Alcala v. Woodford
Case #: 01-99005
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/27/2003
Subsequent History: None

The district court’s conditional grant of Alcala’s habeas petitioned was affirmed where there were multiple constitutional errors in a capital case which had a substantial and injurious effect on the jury’s determination of guilt. First, Alcala’s counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel when he failed to adequately present his alibi defense by failing to put forth evidence which was available. Counsel’s inability to recollect why he did not present the evidence did not compel a conclusion that his actions were reasonable tactical decisions. The error was prejudicial because the prosecution’s case was far from compelling, and the…

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Name: People v. Valdez
Case #: C036614
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/25/2003
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 10/1/03: S117778

Appellants were convicted of the murder of the victim and her fetus. The victim was 16 weeks pregnant with a fetus which died as a result of her death. At trial, appellant sought to introduce the testimony of the autopsy doctor, who concluded that there had been an infection where the placenta attached to the uterine wall which would have made it unlikely that the fetus would have survived to term in utero. The trial court excluded the evidence, and on appeal, appellant argued that the exclusion was error because the murder statute does not apply where…

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Name: People v. Barrett
Case #: C040668
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/03/2003
Subsequent History: None

In appellant’s trial for offenses arising from a fatal automobile accident, the court did not err when it admitted into evidence records and testimony concerning appellant’s prior participation in a drinking driver program. The trial court correctly determined that the records were not subject to Health and Safety Code section 11977. The Legislature intended to treat drug abuse programs and DUI programs separately. Nor did the trial court err by failing to seal the subpoena duces tecum proceedings and identifying appellant by his full name. There is no authority for the proposition that exclusion of the records…

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Name: People v. Maury
Case #: S012852
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/24/2003

In 1985, an anonymous caller to a Secret Witness program gave information regarding the location of Weeden’s body about a month after she had disappeared, which led to the discovery of her body. In 1986, defendant called the Secret Witness program about a reward in an unrelated burglary and identified himself by name. The operator believed he was the same person who had called about the Weeden case. In June 1987, Berryhill and Stark disappeared and shortly thereafter, the Secret Witness operator received a series of calls from an unidentified man who she believed…

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Name: People v. Navarette
Case #: S022481
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/28/2003

In a death penalty case, when asked if he could tell how many stabbing wounds were on the victim, a police officer replied he could not, but volunteered that in 22 years, he had never seen anyone stabbed this many times. The defense objected and the court twice told the jury to disregard the statement. The Supreme Court found no prejudice. The autopsy evidence that the victim had been stabbed almost 50 times was alone sufficient for the jury to conclude the murder was unusually…

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Name: Gill v. Ayers
Case #: 01-55808
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/06/2003
Subsequent History: None

The California sentencing court prejudicially denied due process in refusing defendant the right to testify regarding the nature of his prior "strike" convictions. Specifically, defendant wished to refute statements that attributed personal use of a deadly weapon to…

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Name: People v. Narvaez
Case #: D037469
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/31/2002
Subsequent History: 3/19/03 rev. den.

In appellant’s trial for robbery, the court allowed the testimony of an accomplice who was the driver of the getaway car. The trial court instructed that he was an accomplice as a matter of law. Appellant contended on appeal that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed. There was independent evidence that the defendants were in possession of the stolen jewelry, which was direct physical evidence not relying on witness credibility. Further, there was independent evidence which linked the defendants to stolen money. Finally, the relationship…

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