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Name: Chavez v. Superior Court (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 165
Case #: B332361
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/25/2024

The trial court had inherent authority to reserve ruling on defendant’s pretrial motion to dismiss his gang enhancement allegations based on Assembly Bill No. 333 and to resubmit the allegations to the grand jury for the presentation of additional evidence bearing on the new elements. In 2017, Chavez and others were indicted by a grand jury on four felonies with gang enhancements. After AB 333 went into effect, Chavez moved to dismiss the gang enhancement allegations because the People had not presented evidence to the grand jury to support the new elements of the enhancement. The trial court ruled that…

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Name: Ruiz-Martinez v. Superior Court
Case #: H044349
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/18/2019

Prosecutor's dismissal of grand jurors violated Penal Code section 939.5, but was harmless error. Defendant was indicted for two counts of murder and other offenses. He moved to dismiss the indictment under Penal Code section 995 arguing the prosecutor violated section 939.5 and the separation of powers doctrine when she dismissed three grand jurors because the prosecution has no authority to dismiss a grand juror. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant filed a petition for writ of mandate, which the Court of Appeal denied. The California Supreme Court granted review, decided Avita v. Superior Court (2018) 6 Cal.5th 486,…

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Name: Williams v. Superior Court (People)
Case #: C083126
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/20/2019

Prosecutor's improper dismissal of a grand juror was grounds for dismissing an indictment because it substantially impaired the grand jury's independence and impartiality. The San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office filed a complaint charging Williams and his co-defendants with multiple robberies and related offenses. During the grand jury proceedings, the prosecutor excused one of the jurors from service due to an economic hardship. The proceedings continued with 18 jurors, who ultimately returned an indictment. Williams moved to dismiss the indictment (Pen. Code, § 995), based on the prosecutor’s excusal of a qualified grand juror. The trial court denied the motion.…

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Name: Avitia v. Superior Court
Case #: S242030
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/24/2018

A prosecutor's dismissal of a grand juror violates Penal Code section 939.5; only the grand jury foreperson may dismiss a grand juror. Avitia allegedly drove drunk, crashed into another car, and killed the other driver. The prosecution filed a complaint, and the trial court impaneled a 19-member grand jury. At a grand jury proceeding, the prosecutor asked if any juror would have difficulty being impartial. Juror Nos. 6 and 8 responded affirmatively. The prosecutor questioned each juror outside the presence of other grand jurors and excused Juror No. 18, who stated he could not be fair. After three days of…

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Name: Jackson v. Superior Court (Contra Costa County)
Case #: A153818
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/24/2018
Subsequent History: Review granted 9/19/2018: S250995

A prosecutor's improper excusal of a grand juror did not deny defendant due process or undermine the remaining jurors' ability to determine whether he should be indicted. A grand jury was convened to consider whether Jackson should be indicted for special circumstance murder, rape, and other charges. At the outset of the proceedings, the prosecutor dismissed one of the grand jurors who said he had met the victim. The grand jury thereafter returned an indictment. Jackson moved to dismiss the indictment (Pen. Code, § 995 and nonstatutory grounds) on the basis that the prosecutor's dismissal of a juror for cause,…

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Name: People ex rel. Pierson v. Superior Court
Case #: C081603
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/10/2017

The amendments to Penal Code section 917 that prohibit a grand jury from inquiring into an offense where an officer used lethal force are unconstitutional because the Legislature cannot limit the grand jury's constitutional power to indict. In 2015 an officer shot and killed a suspect. The El Dorado County District Attorney convened a grand jury but the superior court dismissed the grand jury pursuant to section 917, which was amended in 2015 to prohibit grand jury indictments in such cases. The district attorney filed a writ of mandate challenging the constitutionality of the statute. Held: Peremptory writ issued. Article…

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Name: Mason v. Superior Court
Case #: C075149
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/30/2015

Prosecution may obtain an indictment charging defendant with arson (Pen. Code, § 451) despite the fact he was already held to answer for illegal burning (Pen. Code, § 452). In July 2012, Mason threw an illegal firework into a swimming hole. It floated on the surface of the water, then exploded, shooting sparks into the air. Some of the sparks landed on dry brush and ignited a forest fire that burned 2,650 acres. He was initially charged by complaint with arson with enhanced penalties and the lesser offense of unlawful burning. At the preliminary hearing the arson charges were dismissed…

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Name: Arteaga v. Superior Court (Santa Clara County)
Case #: H040702
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/27/2015

Uncorroborated accomplice testimony can be sufficient to support the finding of probable cause necessary for a grand jury indictment. A grand jury indicted Arteaga on street gang and drug offenses. Arteaga moved to dismiss the indictment because the only evidence the grand jury received in support of the charges was uncorroborated accomplice testimony. The trial court denied his motion, and Arteaga petitioned for a writ of mandate and/or prohibition. Held: Petition denied. Penal Code section 1111 provides that a conviction cannot be based on the testimony of an accomplice unless it is corroborated by other evidence…

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Name: People v. Arroyo
Case #: G048659
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/28/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 7/23/14: S219178

Prosecution of 14-year-old defendant in adult court may proceed via grand jury indictment. The Orange County Grand Jury issued an indictment that charged Arroyo and others with conspiracy to commit murder for the benefit of a gang and other offenses. (Pen. Code, §§ 187/182/186.22, subds. (a) & (b).) The indictment included a finding Arroyo was 14 years of age or older and the conspiracy offense came within Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, subdivision (d)(2). Arroyo demurred to the indictment, claiming section 707, subdivision (d) requires prosecution to proceed via preliminary hearing and information. The demurrer was sustained and the…

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Name: People v. Superior Court (Costa)
Case #: B220346
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 04/06/2010

A grand jury indictment for second degree murder in a vehicular homicide case should be set aside only if there is no evidence connecting defendant to the crime. Costa, a truck driver with a class-A commercial license, drove his 25-ton semi trailer, carrying a load of vehicles, down a mountain road. The brakes failed and the truck crashed into cars and businesses, killing two people and injuring others. The grand jury received evidence that Costa, with the class A license, was required to check the safety of his truck before operating it; as he started down the mountain…

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