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Name: People v. Edwards
Case #: H038422
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/15/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 1/27/2016: S230753

Gang expert testimony that included statements made by nontestifying gang members during custodial interrogation violated the confrontation clause. Edwards and a group of friends from East Palo Alto drove to a house party in San Jose. An argument broke out and members of Edwards' group shot and killed one of the partygoers. Three weeks before, there was a similar shooting in Sunnyvale. Edwards was tried for various gang-related crimes based on the shootings. During the trial, Detective Soares opined that Edwards was part of a gang, the Taliban, and that both the San Jose and Sunnyvale shootings benefitted that gang.…

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Name: Maryland v. Kulbicki
Case #: 14-848
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 10/05/2015

Trial counsel did not provide deficient performance by failing to object to expert testimony on bullet fragments that was widely accepted at the time of trial. In 1995, Kulbicki was convicted of murder for shooting his girlfriend in the head at point blank range. At trial, the testimony of an expert in Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis (CBLA), connected bullets from Kulbicki's gun to bullet fragments found in the victim's brain and Kulbicki's truck. After Kulbicki's trial, CBLA fell out of favor and a state appellate court held that CBLA evidence was not generally accepted by the scientific community and was…

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Name: People v. Rivas
Case #: C072621
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/20/2015

Fingerprint evidence is not subject to a hearing under People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24 and, in general, it is not so unreliable that it must be excluded. After Hernandez and Arechiga bought two 30-packs of beer at a convenience store, a group of Norteños attacked them, sliced Hernandez's face open, and took the beer. Hernandez identified one of the attackers, Rivas. The other, Valadez, was identified by a latent palm print found on the window of Hernandez's car. At trial, Valdez moved to exclude the fingerprint evidence. He argued that fingerprint identification evidence is subject to Kelly

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Name: People v. Gana
Case #: G048644
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/05/2015

Trial court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter based on brandishing a firearm because there was no evidence that the defendant drew or exhibited the firearm in a rude, angry, or threatening manner. Gana shot her husband in the chest, killing him, and then chased her two sons and shot at them, injuring one. Gana made incriminating statements to police and medical personnel indicating that she had been depressed and planned to kill her husband and sons before killing herself. Evidence presented during her trial indicated that her chemotherapy drugs may have caused a…

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Name: People v. Ford
Case #: A137422
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 04/07/2015

Admission into evidence of redacted 1981 autopsy report in murder prosecution does not violate the defendant's confrontation rights despite absent pathologist. In 2003 Ford was linked to the 1981 rape-murder of Annie Barcelon via DNA evidence collected at the scene of the offense and processed by then-pathologist Dr. Sisson. At his 2012 trial, Ford’s motion to exclude Barcelon's autopsy report, which was prepared by Dr. Sisson, was denied. Because Dr. Sisson was deceased at the time of Ford's trial, the current Chief Medical Examiner testified as to cause of death and likelihood of sexual assault, based on Dr. Sisson's…

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Name: People v. Rodriguez
Case #: F067805
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/05/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 4/29/2015: S225047

Trial court did not err by failing to appoint an expert on the issue of current dangerousness for Three Strikes Reform Act (Prop. 36) resentencing. In 2000, Rodriguez was sentenced to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law for possession of heroin for sale because he had two prior strikes. In 2012, after voters enacted Proposition 36, he petitioned for resentencing. The court denied the petition after concluding that resentencing Rodriguez would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety (Pen. Code, § 1170.126, subd. (f)). Although Rodriguez had a perfect prison conduct record since his incarceration…

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Name: People v. Miller
Case #: A135650
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 11/26/2014

Trial court may exclude hearsay basis evidence relied upon by expert when the potential the jury will use the evidence for an improper purpose outweighs its probative value. Miller shot and killed his sister's boyfriend, Neuer. At Miller's murder trial the defense focused on his mental state, presenting the testimony of a forensic psychologist, Cushing, that Miller suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and shot Neuer as the impulsive reaction to a perceived threat. He was convicted of first degree murder and burglary. On appeal, Miller claimed the trial court erred in precluding Dr. Cushing from disclosing certain out-of-court statements found…

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Name: U.S. v. Vera
Case #: 12-50294
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/22/2014

Gang expert's testimony did not violate defendants' confrontation clause rights because his opinion was developed by applying his experience and methodology and was not merely a conduit for testimonial hearsay. Defendants were convicted of federal drug offenses. On appeal they challenged admission of expert testimony regarding gangs and drug jargon. Held: Reversed in part. The Supreme Court held in Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36, that admission of testimonial statements of a witness who does not appear at trial violates a defendant's confrontation clause rights. There is generally no problem under Crawford when an expert applies his expertise and…

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Name: People v. London
Case #: E057249
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 07/30/2014

Although the jury instructions misstated the defense under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) related to medical marijuana collectives, defendant was not entitled to instructions on this defense. Police discovered 100 marijuana plants in a grow room in London's home. London, who was a qualified patient and had a medical marijuana card, told officers that he was lawfully cultivating the marijuana for a medical marijuana collective, the Green Galleon collective, and expected to be paid $20,000 once he returned the fully grown plants to the collective. London was found guilty of cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale (Health…

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Name: People v. Leonard
Case #: D062660
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/18/2014

Where amended information was filed without an order explicitly approving filing, it is presumed it was filed with leave of court. Leonard and Walser were convicted of pimping (Pen. Code, § 266h, subd. (a)), pandering (Pen. Code, § 266i, subd. (a)(2)), and assault by means of force likely to inflict great bodily injury (former Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(1)). Leonard was also convicted of criminal threats (Pen. Code, § 422), and a prior prison term, prior serious felony, and strike prior were found true. Defendants were sentenced to state prison and appealed. Held: Affirmed. Leonard claimed the trial court…

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