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Name: People v. Ochoa
Case #: E045756
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 11/20/2009

Gang enhancements based solely on expert testimony were reversed for insufficient evidence. At Ochoa's trial for robbery and carjacking with gang enhancements, the prosecution put on testimony of a gang expert who opined that the carjacking was done for the benefit of the gang. No other evidence tended to show that the carjacking was gang related. On appeal from his conviction, Ochoa contended that substantial evidence did not support the true findings on the gang enhancements. The appellate court agreed and reversed the gang enhancements. A gang expert's testimony alone is insufficient to find an offense gang related. While the…

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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: D052885
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/31/2009
Subsequent History: review granted 12/2/09 (S177046)

A lab report containing blood alcohol results was inadmissible hearsay evidence. Lopez appealed her conviction for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, contending that the admission into evidence of a blood alcohol lab report violated her constitutional right to confront witnesses prohibited under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36. The appellate court affirmed, but the California Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case back with directions to reconsider in light of the opinion of the Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (2009) 129 S. Ct. 2527. In this opinion, the appellate court reconsidered its prior one and reversed the judgment.…

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Name: People v. Gutierrez
Case #: B211622
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/09/2009
Subsequent History: review granted 12/2/09 (S176620)

Admission of the narrative portion of a sex assault exam was a violation of the right to confrontation but was not prejudicial error. In his appeal from his conviction for multiple sex offenses, Gutierrez contended that his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation was violated by admission of testimony regarding the DNA and sexual assault reports by a witness who had not initially analyzed the data and prepared the reports. The appellate court found first that People v. Geier (2007) 41 Cal.4th 555 was still controlling law after Melendez-Diaz (2009) __ U.S. __ [129 S.Ct. 2527]. The two cases are distinguishable…

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Name: People v. Rutterschmidt
Case #: B209568
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/18/2009
Subsequent History: review granted 12/2/09 (S176213)

Admission of the chief laboratory director's testimony relaying toxicology results contained in a report did not violate the confrontation clause. Appellants were elderly women who preyed on homeless men by giving them a place to live, taking out accidental death life insurance policies on them, and then killing the men in what appeared to be hit and run collisions in order to cash in the policies. One of the victims has been given a combination of prescriptions drugs before he was run over. At the murder trial, the chief laboratory director at the coroner's office testified about…

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Name: People v. Dungo
Case #: C055923
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/24/2009
Subsequent History: review granted 12/2/09 (S176886)

An autopsy report prepared during a homicide investigation is testimonial, and the pathologist who prepared it is a witness, such that a defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to cross examine the pathologist. Dungo, in testimony that had some corroboration, admitted choking his girlfriend to death, but said he did so only after she physically and verbally provoked him to the point where he lost control. The autopsy report helped the prosecution, but it was not offered as evidence, and the pathologist who did the autopsy did not testify because the county district attorney refused to use him as a…

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Name: People v. Daniels
Case #: H032497
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/04/2009

Evidence of prior rape conviction was properly admitted in prosecution for kidnap for rape. Appellant was convicted of kidnap for rape and numerous prior convictions. On appeal, he contended that the trial court prejudicially erred in admitting evidence of his 1990 prior rape conviction under Evidence Code sections 1101, subdivision (b) and 1108. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the facts of the 1990 rape were sufficiently similar to support an inference that appellant acted with the same intent on both occasions. Evidence of appellant's intent had substantial probative value. The damage to his case from the admission…

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Name: People v. Ramon
Case #: F054603
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/07/2009

A gang expert's opinion that a defendant committed a crime for the benefit of a gang, without sufficient facts to support such an opinion, is not substantial evidence to support a section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1) gang enhancement. Appellant was a gang member, who was stopped while driving a stolen car with another gang member in the gang's territory. He was convicted of receiving a stolen vehicle, and also of firearm possession offenses for a gun under the driver's seat. A gang expert answered a hypothetical question by saying the crimes would be "a huge benefit in furtherance of the gang,"…

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Name: People v. Fields
Case #: D053080
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/14/2009

Polygraph evidence is not barred in SVP proceedings pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code sections 6600 et seq. A petition was filed to commit Fields for an indeterminate term of involuntary treatment. At the jury trial on the issue, witnesses for the prosecution testified as to Fields’ progress in the treatment process. In conjunction with the process, Fields underwent a polygraph examination. The court limited cross-examination of the witnesses with regard to the polygraph examination administered to Fields. The appellate court observed that, unlike a criminal proceeding, Evidence Code section 351.5 is not a bar to…

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Name: Moses v. Payne
Case #: 07-35468
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/15/2008

The trial court did not err by precluding a defense expert witness from testifying or by excluding an autopsy photo of the victim. Petitioner was convicted of the second-degree murder of his wife. Petitioner had claimed at trial that his wife had shot herself in the head. At trial the defense introduced four of the wife's medical providers to testify about her mental heath and substance abuse. The defense also sought to introduce the testimony of another doctor, an expert on depression. Although the expert could not testify that the death was a suicide, he was going to testify that the victim fell into…

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Name: People v. Sandoval
Case #: C056451
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/11/2008

Expert testimony on "make-up sex" is not analogous to expert testimony on child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS). Appellant was charged with spousal rape by force. Despite her account of rape by her husband to five different parties following the incident, at trial, the victim recanted. Appellant's motion to introduce expert testimony on the subject of "make-up sex," a "phenomena of sex being more arousing after a fight in some circumstances," was denied by the trial judge. Finding no abuse of discretion in the denial, the appellate court rejected appellant's argument that the expert's intended testimony was…

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