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Name: People v. Watts
Case #: B270324
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/11/2018

Trial court's failure to independently weigh the evidence when deciding motion for new trial was an abuse of discretion. Watts was convicted of murder and a gang enhancement was found true. He filed a new trial motion challenging the sufficiency of the evidence of the enhancement. In denying the motion the trial court repeatedly told Watts it could not reweigh the evidence and its only concern was whether the prosecution offered sufficient evidence to present the case to the jury. Watts appealed. Held: Reversed. When ruling on a new trial motion (Pen. Code, § 1181, subd. (6)) the court "extends…

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Name: People v. Watts
Case #: B270324
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/14/2017

A trial court must independently weigh the evidence when it decides a motion for new trial. Watts was convicted of murder and a gang enhancement was found true. He filed a new trial motion challenging the sufficiency of the evidence of the gang enhancement. In denying the motion the trial court repeatedly told Watts it could not reweigh the evidence and its only concern was whether the prosecution offered sufficient evidence to present the case to the jury. Watts appealed. Held: Reversed. When ruling on a new trial motion (Pen. Code, § 1181, subd. (b)) the trial court "extends no…

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Name: People v. Carter
Case #: B251727
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 06/24/2014

When judge's remarks preceding denial of new trial motion reflect that the court is applying an incorrect legal standard, an appellate court must consider the judge's comments in its review. A jury convicted Carter of commercial burglary of a Wells Fargo Bank. A truck belonging to Carter's father, which Carter used in his flooring construction business, was captured on surveillance video during the burglary. A screwdriver bearing Carter's DNA was found inside a damaged automated teller machine. The person captured on video committing the burglary wore a disguise and resembled Carter. In his defense, Carter presented evidence that he…

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Name: People v. Gonzales
Case #: G044384
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/26/2011
Subsequent History: 12/14/11 rev. granted (S197036)

The substantive criminal street gang offense of Penal Code section 186.22, subdivision (a) applies in circumstances where an active gang participant acts alone. Gonzales, a Big Stanton gang member, was encountered parked in an area claimed by Big Stanton and a rival gang, and in possession of a loaded handgun and six baggies of methamphetamine. There was sufficient evidence to find him an active gang member, or that he was promoting, furthering or assisting in felonious activity by the gang, based on his actions alone. The expert's opinion was supported by Gonzales' statement that he bought the gun because the…

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Name: People v. Soojian
Case #: F058589
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/24/2010

In a motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence, defendant must establish that it is probable that at least one juror would have found him not guilty based on the evidence, not that the new evidence would have resulted in a different verdict. Appellant was convicted of numerous crimes resulting from the robbery and shooting of one of the victims. In his first appeal challenging the denial of a motion for new trial, the appellate court reversed, concluding the trial court used an incorrect standard when analyzing the motion, and remanded with directions to reconsider the new trial…

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Name: Maxwell v. Roe
Case #: 06-56093
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/30/2010

A conviction obtained by knowingly perjured testimony is fundamentally unfair and a constitutional error resulting from the use of such false evidence by the government requires a new trial if the testimony reasonably could have affected the judgment of the jury. In 1979, Maxwell was charged with the "Skid Row Stabber" killings and convicted of two of the ten counts of first degree murder. In subsequent appeals, he contended that he was convicted on the basis of the perjured testimony of a jailhouse informant, that the testimony was material, and that the prosecution withheld material evidence regarding deals the informant…

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Name: People v. Masotti
Case #: C056320
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/28/2008

The trial court can grant a new trial only on a ground raised in the motion for a new trial and is without authority to grant a new trial on its own motion (Pen. Code, sec. 1181). Appellant was convicted by jury trial of cultivation of marijuana and two counts of furnishing marijuana. He filed a motion for a new trial on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction. The court granted the motion for a new trial on different grounds, i.e., stating that it was on the basis of instructional error,…

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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. Avila
Case #: F042072
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/08/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 6/23/04

During his trial for second degree commercial burglary, appellant asked for a continuance because he was in serious pain from an old back injury. The continuance was denied. Appellant continued to complain about serious headaches, and maintained that he was unable to assist in his defense due to the pain. A motion for a mistrial was denied. Following appellant's conviction, he made a motion for a new trial because he had been "mentally absent" from trial because of the pain. In denying the motion, the trial court stated that it believed appellant was in pain,…

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Name: U.S. v. Henley
Case #: 96-50697
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/07/2001
Subsequent History: None

The district court erred here in rejecting defendants' claim that a juror concealed his racial bias without making any findings concerning whether the juror actually made a racist statement, and if so, its specific content. The lack of findings leaves nothing for the appellate court to review. It is unclear whether the district court found no racists statements were made, or simply that the statements made were not sufficient to establish that the juror lied during voir dire. Jury tampering, which creates a presumption of prejudice which the government must rebut, is qualitatively more prejudicial than other…

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