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Name: People v. Molina (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 516
Case #: G061280
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/17/2023

Defendant forfeited his challenges to the COVID-19 safety protocols implemented at his trial by failing to object, and any objection to the protocols would have been meritless. A jury convicted Molina of felony offenses during the pandemic. On appeal he argued COVID-19 safety protocols implemented at trial deprived him of his constitutional right to a fair trial. In particular, he challenged the jurors’ use of face masks during voir dire, the trial court’s decision to allow certain jurors to continue to wear face masks and sit outside the jury box during trial even after the protocols were lifted, and the…

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Name: People v. Villegas (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 253
Case #: A164370
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/15/2023

Counsel was not ineffective in failing to seek exclusion of defendant’s second statement to police where defendant waived his right to remain silent and then failed to clearly assert this right during questioning before making incriminating statements. Defendant was questioned as to sexual offenses against two alleged victims, waived his Miranda rights, made incriminating statements, and was arrested. Police then learned of a third alleged victim and questioned defendant a second time a couple days later. He waived his Miranda rights a second time and admitted making a “mistake,” but said he would not say anything else. Police detailed the…

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Name: People v. Lepere (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 727
Case #: G061393
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/16/2023
Subsequent History: Modified 6/2/2023

Motion to suppress DNA evidence was properly denied where the affidavit supporting the search warrant was sufficiently detailed and established probable cause. In 2021, through the use of a genealogy website and DNA extracted from a rape kit, defendant became a person of interest in a 1980 rape and murder case. A search warrant of defendant’s house was issued and items seized from his trash linked him to the crime. He was convicted of murder. On appeal, he argued the police officer’s affidavit in support of the search warrant lacked probable cause and his motion to suppress the DNA evidence was…

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Name: In re Kerins (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 1084
Case #: A165304
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/30/2023

Failure to bring SVP defendant to trial more than 14 years after the filing of the SVP petition did not amount to unconstitutional pretrial delay. Kerins was convicted of an SVP-qualifying offense in 1988. He was convicted of additional offenses in 1998 and sentenced to state prison for 13 years. Prior to his release, psychologists determined Kerins met the criteria for an SVP, and the the People filed an SVP petition. More than 14 years after the SVP petition was filed, Kerins filed a habeas petition alleging that the People had failed to bring him to trial in a timely…

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Name: People v. Ruiz (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 324
Case #: B312062/B317270
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 03/15/2023

Defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel at his resentencing hearing where counsel completely failed to act as an advocate as a result of cognitive issues caused by a brain tumor. In 2018, CDCR sent a recall letter to the trial court with a request to correct an error in connection with Ruiz’s sentence. Although the court had the opportunity to reconsider all the sentencing choices, counsel did not file any documents and failed to prepare Ruiz for the resentencing hearing. During the proceeding, counsel spoke less than 50 words. Counsel declined the court’s invitation to speak on Ruiz’s behalf, despite…

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Name: People v. Smothers
Case #: A156081
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/20/2021

Trial counsel was prejudicially ineffective for failing to present evidence of the identity of a man whose DNA was found in a murder victim's fingernail scrapings despite a court order allowing counsel to do so. In 1983, a woman was found dead. In 2008, investigators began processing evidence for DNA using new procedures. Blood DNA pointed to defendant, the woman's boyfriend, who had been a suspect in the earlier investigation. However, DNA under the woman's fingernails yielded a match to a man named Sennett, who appeared to have no connection to California, the woman, or defendant. In 2016, defendant was…

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Name: People v. Brewer
Case #: C089676
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/07/2021

Even assuming defendant was developmentally disabled, trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance when he failed to challenge defendant's 63-year sentence for multiple armed robberies as cruel or unusual. Brewer was convicted of a series of robberies, with firearm enhancements, committed when he was 28 years old. He was sentenced to 63 years in prison. On appeal he argued that the sentence was cruel or unusual, as the functional equivalent of LWOP, because he is developmentally disabled. Because trial counsel did not specifically object to the sentence on the grounds it was cruel or unusual at the time the…

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Name: People v. Clotfelter
Case #: A155659
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 06/02/2021

There was insufficient evidence to establish defendant's conduct was objectively irritating or disturbing to support a conviction for annoying or molesting a child. Defendant was convicted of multiple sex crimes in the 1980's and sentenced to 10 years in state prison. In 2016, during a routine sex offender compliance check, an officer found evidence in the form of emails and photos that he had formed relationships with three minor boys and their families. Defendant was charged with two counts of annoying or molesting a child under 18 years old (Pen. Code, § 647.6) and four counts of communicating with a…

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Name: In re Long
Case #: S249274
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 11/30/2020

Opinion By: Justice Liu (unanimous decision)
Trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to consult a time of death expert where the timeline was crucial to the defense theory of the case. In 2005, petitioner Long was convicted of the second degree murder of her boyfriend Conde. In response to Long's 911 call reporting that she just came home and something was wrong with Conde, paramedics found him dead. He had been killed by blunt force injuries to the head. There was no physical or direct evidence that linked Long to the crime. The prosecutor's theory at trial was…

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Name: People v. Sanchez
Case #: B291127
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/15/2019

Prosecutor did not misstate intent element of charged offense, so defense counsel's failure to object could not constitute deficient performance. Defendant, a 33-year-old woman, French kissed, groped, and kissed the breasts of a female family member a little before and after the girl's 14th birthday. A jury convicted defendant of committing lewd and lascivious acts (Pen. Code, § 288), and the trial court placed her on probation with a suspended eight-year prison sentence. Defendant appealed, arguing trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to the prosecutor's argument during rebuttal that section 288 does not require "intent to…

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