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Name: People v. Mumin
Case #: D076916
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/19/2021

Trial court correctly instructed jury with "kill zone" theory of attempted murder liability where defendant shot through closed doors at pursuing police officers. Mumin was convicted of special circumstance murder after he killed a man during a store robbery, as well as several counts of attempted murder for shooting at pursuing police. The trial court instructed the jury on a kill zone theory of attempted murder liability. On appeal, Mumin argued the evidence was insufficient to warrant a kill zone instruction. Held: Affirmed. When a single act is charged as the basis for the attempted murders of two or more…

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Name: Hurles v. Ryan
Case #: 08-99032
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/18/2013

Remand for an evidentiary hearing was required where judge became involved in capital defendant's appeal by making statements concerning guilt before the trial. Hurles appealed the district court's denial of his federal habeas petition challenging his conviction for capital murder and the imposition of a death sentence. Hurles contended that the judge's failure to recuse herself from his trial and sentencing denied him due process of law. The trial judge had summarily denied Hurles the appointment of co-counsel, and trial counsel petitioned for appellate review. The trial judge then filed a responsive pleading defending her ruling,…

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Name: Tong Xiong v. Felkner
Case #: 09-16830
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/05/2012

Where the jury receives extrinsic evidence during trial, this is misconduct and there is a strong presumption of prejudice that can be overcome by the state. Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to prison for life. Following his conviction, defense counsel learned of possible juror misconduct rising from alleged discussion by the jurors of the out-of-court demeanor by a witness. Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial on the ground of jury misconduct. The motion was denied. On federal review, the court considered whether petitioner's due process rights were violated when the…

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Name: People v. Bradford
Case #: D046614
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/07/2007

A trial court judge's unrecorded ex parte communications with a deliberating jury violates the defendant's right to counsel and right to trial by jury. While the jury was deliberating in appellant's murder trial, the trial court judge, unaccompanied by counsel or a court reporter, entered the jury room on five separate occasions and responded to juror questions about the instructions, on occasion giving inaccurate responses as to the elements of the charged offense. The appellate court noted that not only were these interactions highly improper, they also violated Penal Code section 1138, case law, and, importantly, appellant's Sixth Amendment…

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Name: In re Freeman
Case #: S122590
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/16/2006

In evaluating a habeas petitioner’s allegations, the reviewing court gives great weight to a referee’s findings that are supported by substantial evidence. Petitioner filed a habeas writ alleging the prosecutor improperly exercised peremptory challenges in his death penalty case on the basis of religion at the suggestion of the trial judge. The petition was supported by a declaration from the prosecutor in his case. The California Supreme Court issued an order to show cause and an evidentiary hearing was held at which a referee found the judge did not direct the prosecutor to excuse Jewish jurors. …

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Name: People v. Sturm
Case #: S031423
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/06/2006

In this automatic appeal, the death sentence was reversed where the trial court persisted in making disparaging comments about defense witnesses, disparaged the defense attorney, and made comments from which the jury could perceive that the judge did not believe the witnesses. (The trial court asked one expert witness who said he received federal grant money whether he was contributing to the federal deficit, told witnesses they were causing problems for the court by "embellishing" their testimony, told defense counsel that he "knew the questions were objectionable" and asked why he was asking them, etc.) The cumulative effect of…

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Name: People v. Noel
Case #: A099366
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/05/2005
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 7/27/05: S134543

In this consolidated appeal from the San Francisco dog mauling trial, the court considered together defendant Knoller’s appeal from her conviction and the People’s appeal from the order granting her a new trial. The court rejected Knoller’s argument that the trial court lost jurisdiction to sentence her after the People appealed the order granting her a new trial, noting that Penal Code section 1242 expressly reserves such jurisdiction to the trial court. The court further agreed with the People that the trial court had erred in granting Knoller a new trial on the second degree murder charge. …

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Name: People v. Perkins
Case #: B157608
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 06/27/2003
Subsequent History: None

Appellant argued on appeal that he was deprived of his right to effective assistance of counsel and due process because the trial court "engaged in a systematic pattern of judicial hostility" which consisted of continual interference with defense witnesses, making disparaging comments about defense counsel, and erroneous exclusion of crucial defense evidence. The appellate court agreed, and reversed appellant’s convictions. Appellant did not forfeit his claim by failing to make objections. Four material instances of judicial misconduct prejudicially deprived appellant of his rights to due process and a fair trial. The trial court cross examined appellant…

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Name: People v. Abbaszadeh
Case #: C036850
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/25/2003
Subsequent History: none

Appellant was an Iranian charged with fraud offenses. During the voir dire before his jury trial, Judge O’Flaherty committed Mello error when he told the jurors to lie if they needed to in order to get off the jury if they felt that they harbored negative feelings about Iranians. The Attorney General conceded the error but argued that the error was waived because defense counsel did not object during voir dire. The appellate court here reversed. Failure to object to the instruction was excused because an objection would have been futile, the prosecutor was…

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Name: U.S. v. Rosales-Rodriguez
Case #: 00-50145
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/08/2002
Subsequent History: Cert. den. 12/2/02

During appellant’s trial for possession with intent to distribute marijuana, the court, without knowledge of the parties, sent an unsolicited note to the jurors informing them that if they were still deliberating at the end of the day (a Friday), an alternate juror would replace one of the jurors and the panel would have to begin deliberations anew the following week. The jury returned a verdict a short time later, at 11:00 a.m.. Here, the appellate court found that the trial court committed constitutional and statutory violations. However, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. …

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