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Name: People v. Jiles
Case #: E034087
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/16/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 12/22/04: S128638

A victim’s statement made shortly before her death is admissible under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1354 regardless of whether the statement is testimonial. The defendant’s wife told a police officer that the defendant had stabbed her; she then lost consciousness and died about an hour later. The defendant argued that her statement was inadmissible under the Sixth Amendment because the statement was testimonial and he had had no opportunity to cross-examine her. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument, noting that Crawford had left open an exception for dying declarations and the doctrine of forfeiture…

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Name: People v. Ramos
Case #: B166003
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/27/2004
Subsequent History: 12/1/04 revw. den.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, appellant's statements to police officers were voluntary and therefore admissible at his trial for attempted murder. The fact that the officer made an improper promise of leniency by advising appellant that his cooperation would benefit him was not sufficient to render the otherwise voluntary statements involuntary. Further, the exclusion of expert testimony on police interrogation tactics did not require reversal. The trial court properly concluded that the defense failed to demonstrate the need for the expert testimony, and also expressly indicated that it would reconsider during trial if the evidence adduced at trial…

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Name: People v. Brown
Case #: S113929
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/02/2004

The Supreme Court granted review in this case to determine whether expert testimony regarding battered women's syndrome and the behavior of victims of domestic violence was within the scope of Evidence Code section 1107 when the evidence showed that appellant battered the victim on only one occasion. Two Court of Appeal decisions had addressed the issue with opposite results. The Supreme Court in this opinion held that the evidence was admissible under section 801 because it would assist the trier of fact in evaluating the credibility of the victim's trial testimony and earlier statements, by providing information about…

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Name: People v. Pollock
Case #: S040471
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/17/2004
Subsequent History: Cert. den. 1/10/05

The court did not err in excluding the testimony of a drug-addiction expert in the guilt phase of a prosecution for capital murder. The defendant argued that the court violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments in excluding certain testimony by his only guilt-phase witness, an expert who would have testified regarding the effect of the defendant’s drug addiction on his ability to control his actions at the time of the offense. The expert was permitted to testify in general terms about the effects of drug addiction on behavior, but the trial court excluded…

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Name: People v. Wells
Case #: A099569
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/29/2004
Subsequent History: Rehrg. den. 5/26/04; Rev. den. 8/11/04

The trial court did not err in excluding expert testimony regarding the usual reactions of sexually abused children. On appeal from his conviction of several sex offenses against two minors, the defendant claimed that the trial court improperly excluded testimony by a defense expert regarding the normal reactions of trauma victims. The testimony had been offered to show that the demeanor of one of the minors was inconsistent with having been molested, and followed the testimony of a prosecution expert who described the various stages of child abuse accommodation syndrome. In regard to the prosecution expert’s testimony,…

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Name: People v. Vanegas
Case #: B165475
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 02/04/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 4/28/04

Appellant Vanegas hit a pedestrian with his vehicle. He was under the influence of alcohol and speeding when the accident occurred. The victim died from his injuries. During his trial for second degree murder, the trial court instructed the jury it could find appellant guilty of second degree murder based on implied malice if it found that the killing resulted from an intentional act and the natural consequences of the act were dangerous to human life. The court further instructed the jury that a violation of the basic speed law was the commission of an act inherently…

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Name: People v. Therrian
Case #: C040937
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/20/2003
Subsequent History: None

When an expert's opinion regarding the likelihood of defendant reoffending is not based solely upon the results of a Static-99 test (which assigns a risk assessment of reoffending), a Kelly (People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24) hearing on the admissibility of an expert's testimony regarding the test is not…

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Name: People v. Maglaya
Case #: C043236
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/04/2003
Subsequent History: None

Lay witness may give shoe-print comparison evidence. At appellant's trial for attempted burglary, a non-expert police officer was allowed to testify that shoeprints found in the dirt at the scene of the offense were similar to the soles of the defendant's shoes. The appellate court here found that the evidence was properly admitted, and affirmed appellant's conviction. The officer's comparison of shoes and footprints was based on his perception as a nonexpert rather than an expert witness. The officer did not testify that the footprints matched, but merely that they were "similar," which was well within the…

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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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