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Name: People v. Merchant
Case #: D075388
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/09/2019

Defendant's right to cross-examine a prosecution witness was forfeited by wrongdoing where he coerced the witness from testifying at trial. Defendant was charged with kidnapping his girlfriend and other offenses. While in jail he called his girlfriend and urged her not to testify at trial, stating that his friends were "looking out for her" to make sure she complied. The girlfriend failed to appear at trial. The trial court relied on recordings of the jail phone calls to apply the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing exception to the Sixth Amendment right to confrontation and admitted the girlfriend's hearsay statements to officers about the offenses.…

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Name: People v. Luo
Case #: H042668
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/04/2017

There was sufficient evidence to sustain defendant's involuntary manslaughter conviction although no expert testimony was presented regarding the standard of care applicable to construction sites. A jury convicted Luo of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, § 192, subd. (b)) and safety code violations after an unsupported excavation at a construction site collapsed, killing a worker. On appeal Luo argued the evidence was insufficient because there was no expert testimony presented to establish the standard of care with which he was required to act, or the manner in which he breached that duty. Held: Affirmed. To prove involuntary manslaughter, the prosecution was…

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Name: People v. Lena
Case #: A138474
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/22/2017

Trial court properly struck defendant's direct examination testimony as a sanction for refusing to answer any of the prosecutor's questions on cross-examination. Lena testified during his trial for assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (d)(2)) and other offenses. However, he refused to answer any of the prosecutor's questions on cross-examination, despite being warned by the trial court that his failure to do so would result in his direct testimony being stricken. The court struck his direct testimony. The jury convicted Lena and he appealed. Held: Affirmed. A trial court may impose sanctions…

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Name: People v. Bradley
Case #: C075294
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/17/2017

Trial court did not err by sustaining claim of privilege and refusing to order disclosure of informant's identity, after finding the informant was not a material witness and that such disclosure was contrary to public interest. Bradley was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun (former Pen. Code, § 12021, subd. (a)(1)). On appeal he challenged the denial of his motion to disclose the identity of a confidential government informant whom he claimed entrapped him to possess the weapon. He also argued the trial court erred by sustaining a government agent's claim of privilege not to testify…

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Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: G050268
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 11/15/2016

Trial court did not abuse its discretion or violate the defendant's constitutional rights by ordering a conditional examination and release of a material prosecution witness. Garcia was charged with human trafficking accomplished by means of force or fear (Pen. Code, § 236.1, subds. (c)(1), (c)(2)) and pimping a 14-year-old female (Pen. Code, § 266h, subd. (b)(2)). The trial court denied defense requests to continue to detain the minor as a material witness (Pen. Code, § 1332) and ordered her conditional examination (Pen. Code, § 1336). At trial, the court found the minor witness unavailable and admitted a video of her…

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Name: People v. Giron-Chamul
Case #: A140628
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/18/2016

Defendant was denied opportunity to effectively cross-examine child witness because the witness refused to answer hundreds of questions. After a jury convicted Giron-Chamul of committing sex offenses against his 4-year-old daughter, he appealed raising a number of contentions, including that he was denied his constitutional right to confrontation because he did not have an adequate opportunity to effectively cross-examine his daughter, who refused to answer questions on cross-examination. Held: Reversed. The Confrontation Clause gives the accused the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him. It guarantees an opportunity for effective cross-examination. Several decisions have held that the right…

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Name: People v. Noriega
Case #: E059713
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/17/2015

Rape victim's lack of memory during cross-examination was not a "refusal to answer" that would justify exclusion of her testimony. Noriega was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child by means of rape based on evidence that he raped and sodomized his stepdaughter, Jane Doe, starting when she was five. Doe was 16 years old at the time of trial. She testified very reluctantly and was evasive. During cross-examination she stated that she could not remember certain details about her prior testimony. Noriega unsuccessfully moved to strike the testimony, arguing that he was prevented from effectively…

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Name: People v. Chenault
Case #: D064276
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/21/2014

Presence of support dog during testimony of child sex abuse victims did not prejudice defendant. Chenault appealed following his conviction for various forcible and nonforcible lewd acts on a child under 14 (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a) & (b)). The victims were his two minor children and a niece's two daughters. On appeal, Chenault claimed the trial court erred by allowing a support dog to be present during the testimony of the 11- and 13-year-old great-nieces without an individualized showing of necessity, and that the presence of the dog was inherently prejudicial and violated his federal constitutional rights…

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Name: Pulido v. Superior Court (Los Angeles)
Case #: B250802
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/10/2013

The statutory procedures for obtaining an order to examine a material witness residing out of state (Pen. Code, § 1349 et seq.) apply in postconviction proceedings. In 2002, Pulido was convicted of violent offenses against victim Cardenas. At trial, Cardenas repeatedly identified Pulido as the shooter and stated he was telling the truth. He acknowledged that he had recanted the day before his testimony, explaining that he had been scared. In a 2008 declaration, Cardenas recanted his identification testimony and explained that the police and others intimidated him into testifying against Pulido. Pulido filed a habeas petition asserting his…

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Name: People v. McCoy
Case #: C067380
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/03/2013

Video testimony of quadriplegic was properly shown to jury where defendant had opportunity to cross-examine victim during the conditional examination. McCoy physically and sexually assaulted his girlfriend, Cindy H., rendering her a quadriplegic. Because Cindy was extremely ill at the time of the preliminary hearing and because her medical condition provided reasonable grounds to fear that she would be unable to testify at trial, she was examined via two-way video conference. The video was played during trial because Cindy was unable to testify. McCoy was convicted of multiple offenses and sentenced to 25 years to life in…

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