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Name: Bonds v. Superior Court (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 821
Case #: D082187
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/14/2024

When denying defendant’s motion for relief under the Racial Justice Act (RJA), the trial court erred by applying an incorrect legal standard that ignored that bias can be unconscious and implied as well as conscious and express. After a traffic stop, Bonds was charged with carrying a concealed firearm as a misdemeanor. He filed an RJA motion, arguing there are significant racial disparities in local policing, particularly with regard to the nature and frequency of traffic stops. At a hearing on the motion, Bonds offered the testimony of three expert witnesses and the police officer who stopped him. The officer…

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Name: Mosby v. Superior Court (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 106
Case #: E080924
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/25/2024

To make a prima facie showing of discriminatory charging under the Racial Justice Act (RJA), the defendant must offer evidence that, if believed, would show both a racial disparity in charging in the county and that nonminority defendants who were similarly situated and engaged in similar conduct faced lower charges. Mosby was charged in Riverside County with capital murder. He filed motions under the RJA seeking to bar the prosecution from pursuing the death penalty based on racially discriminatory charging practices in the county. (Pen. Code, § 745(a)(3).)  The trial court ultimately rejected the RJA claim at the prima facie…

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Name: People v. Coleman (2024) 98 Cal.App.5th 709
Case #: A165198
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 01/05/2024

Trial counsel’s advice regarding defendant’s manner of speaking while testifying did not indicate racial bias sufficient to support a violation of the Racial Justice Act (RJA). Defendant appealed his conviction of first degree murder, arguing the court should reverse his conviction because his trial counsel exhibited racial bias toward him in violation of the RJA by advising him to “use Ebonics, slang, and to sound ghetto” when he testified. Held: Affirmed. The RJA provides: “The state shall not seek or obtain a criminal conviction or seek, obtain, or impose a sentence on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin.” (§ 745,…

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Name: People v. Simmons (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 323
Case #: B309921
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 10/12/2023

The prosecutor violated the Racial Justice Act (RJA) during closing argument when she referred to defendant's complexion and “ambiguous ethnic presentation” as reasons to doubt his credibility and defense counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the RJA issue in the trial court. Simmons was convicted of attempted premeditated murder. On appeal, the court addressed an RJA issue that was not raised in the trial court. Held: Reversed and remanded. The parties agreed that the prosecutor violated the RJA when she stated in her rebuttal closing argument that Simmons “bragged about all the women he was able to fool with…

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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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