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Name: People v. Buckner (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 724
Case #: A162304
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/30/2023

Because defendant was living in his house on the day he set it on fire, substantial evidence supports the jury’s conclusion that the house was inhabited at the time of the fire. A jury convicted Buckner of arson of an inhabited dwelling structure. On appeal, he argued substantial evidence did not support his conviction because there was no evidence that he intended to live in his home after the fire. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 450 defines “inhabited” for purposes of the arson statutes as “currently being used for dwelling purposes whether occupied or not.” The Court of Appeal reviewed…

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Name: People v. Hupp (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 946
Case #: E079389, E079543
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/25/2023

A judge is not an “executive officer” within the meaning of Penal Code section 69. A jury convicted defendant of four counts of violating section 69 (threatening an executive officer) based on threatening statements he made to four judges. On appeal, he argued that as a matter of law, he could not be liable under section 69 because a judge is not an “executive officer” within the plain meaning of the term. Held: Reversed. Section 69 makes it a crime to attempt to deter, by means of any threat, an executive officer from the performance of a legal duty. The issue of whether…

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Name: People v. Lashon
Case #: A163074
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/08/2024

Defendant's claim under the Racial Justice Act (RJA) was forfeited where she had an opportunity file an RJA motion in the trial court but instead raised the claim for the first time on direct appeal. Lashon was convicted of second degree and first degree murder, with true findings of multiple murders, and sentenced to LWOP. She appealed, contending in her opening brief for the first time that the judgment was the result of the trial judge’s implicit racial bias against her and her trial counsel in violation of the RJA (Pen. Code, § 745). In its first opinion, the Court…

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Name: People v. Gaines (2023) 93 Cal.App.5th 91 (and People v. Ross)
Case #: F083168, F083228
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/15/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 7/5/2023

The offenses of discharging a firearm from a vehicle, and permitting another person to discharge a firearm from a vehicle, do not require that the shooter be inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting. At a store, Gaines and Ross exchanged words with a man who was with his girlfriend and her children. After leaving the store, Gaines drove his vehicle in search of the man, who was walking on the sidewalk with his girlfriend and children. Gaines stopped the car while Ross got out and shot at the individuals. Defendants were convicted of numerous offenses including shooting…

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Name: People v. Coulthard (2023) 90 Cal.App.5th 743
Case #: H049755
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/30/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 04/19/2023

To convict defendant of child abduction, the prosecution was not required to prove that the foreign court order or child custody order used to prove defendant’s guilt had previously been registered in California. Defendant’s daughter, M.C., lived with her mother in the United Kingdom, per a UK custody order. Contrary to the visitation terms of the custody order, defendant refused to return M.C. to her mother following M.C.’s visit with him in the U.S. M.C.’s mother obtained a UK emergency return order, which was served on defendant by the Campbell Police Department. Defendant was arrested, charged, and convicted of child…

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Name: People v. Middleton (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 749
Case #: B312583
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 05/18/2023

A defendant violates Penal Code section 236.1(c) when the defendant attempts, but fails, to traffic an actual minor, even if the defendant lacks specific intent regarding the victim’s age, and mistake of fact as to age is not a defense. Middleton was convicted of human trafficking of a minor for a commercial sex act under the attempt prong of section 236.1(c), and other related offenses. On appeal, she argued the trial court erred by not instructing the jury that the People had to prove specific intent as to age, and by instructing the jury that mistake of fact as to…

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Name: People v. Tice (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 246
Case #: E077504
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/14/2023

A person employed by the county to work within a county jail is an “employee of the local detention facility” within the meaning of the gassing statute (Pen. Code, § 243.9(a)). Defendant was convicted of multiple counts based on incidents that occurred at the county jail while he was awaiting trial, including one count of battery on a detention facility employee by gassing. He appealed, arguing that insufficient evidence supported the gassing count. Held: Affirmed. Section 243.9 prohibits battery by gassing on any peace officer or “employee of the local detention facility.” Defendant argued that because the victim testified that…

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Name: People v. Morgan
Case #: D080016
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/20/2023

Trial court erred in concluding defendant’s driving under the influence (DUI) charges could be elevated to felonies where defendant had not suffered a qualifying sentence-enhancing prior conviction listed in Vehicle Code section 23550.5, subdivision (b). Under Vehicle Code section 23550.5, subdivision (b), a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in violation of Vehicle Code section 23152 is elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony if the defendant was previously convicted of violating specified provisions of the Penal Code, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5, subd. (a)). Here, defendant drove his motorcycle while intoxicated. The People…

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Name: Mendoza v. Superior Court (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 42
Case #: F084354
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/03/2023

Assembly Bill No. 333’s changes to the elements of gang-related charges apply retroactively to preliminary hearing proceedings. Mendoza sought a writ of mandamus after the superior court denied his Penal Code section 995 motion to dismiss a charge for active participation in a criminal street gang and the gang enhancements attached to multiple counts. He asserted that the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, while sufficient at the time of the hearing, was now insufficient in light of the changes to Penal Code section 186.22 by AB 333. The Court of Appeal ultimately issued an order directing the respondent to…

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Name: Smith v. LoanMe
Case #: S260391
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/01/2021

Opinion By: Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye (unanimous decision)
Penal Code section 632.7 prohibits parties as well as nonparties from intentionally recording a communication transmitted between a cellular or cordless phone and another device without the consent of all parties to the communication. Defendant extended a loan to plaintiff's wife. When defendant called the wife, plaintiff answered the phone, informing defendant that his wife was not available. The call lasted 18 seconds. It was recorded by defendant, who did not inform the plaintiff the call was recorded, although there was a "beep" three seconds into the call. Plaintiff sued defendant for…

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