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Name: Hulbert v. Cross
Case #: C090663
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/11/2021

In a medical malpractice action filed by an indigent inmate, the trial court denied the plaintiff meaningful access to the courts when it refused his motion for appointment of an expert. Hulbert, a self-represented indigent inmate, filed a medical malpractice case against Dr. Cross, alleging negligence in performing surgery. To establish his claim, Hulbert requested appointment of a medical expert and legal counsel. The trial court denied his motion, finding no authority in support of the request. It granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment because Hulbert had failed to rebut the declaration submitted by the defendant's medical expert regarding…

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Name: Gardner v. Appellate Division of Superior Court
Case #: S246214
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/28/2019

An indigent defendant respondent in a pretrial prosecution appeal is entitled to appointment of counsel. The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence (Pen. Code, § 1538.5) in a misdemeanor case, and dismissed the underlying complaint. The People appealed to the appellate division of the trial court. The public defender asked the appellate division to appoint new counsel to represent defendant for the appeal. The appellate division concluded that a defendant respondent is not entitled to appointment of appellate counsel. The public defender filed a petition for writ of mandate in the appellate division asking the court to direct…

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Name: McCoy v. Louisiana
Case #: 16-8255
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 05/14/2018
Subsequent History: 138 S.Ct. 1500

Trial counsel's admission that defendant killed three people, in an effort to avoid the death penalty, mandates reversal of defendant's convictions because he was denied the right to choose the objective of his defense in violation of the Sixth Amendment. Defendant was charged with killing three family members. He entered a not guilty plea, offering an alibi defense. Over defendant's objection, his trial attorney admitted defendant committed the killings, as best suited to avoid the death penalty. Defendant was convicted of three first degree murders and sentenced to death. His convictions were affirmed in the state court. The U.S. Supreme…

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Name: Morris v. Superior Court of San Bernardino County
Case #: E066330
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 11/21/2017

Indigent respondent in misdemeanor appeal to the appellate division of the superior court is not entitled to appointed counsel. Petitioner Morris' office, the Public Defender of San Bernardino County, represented Lopez in a misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol case. The public defender filed a successful motion to suppress evidence and Lopez's case was dismissed. The prosecution appealed to the appellate division of the superior court. The public defender requested that counsel be appointed for Lopez. The court found Lopez ineligible for appointed counsel because California Rules of Court, rule 8.851(a)(1), only authorizes appointment of counsel for an…

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Name: Harris v. Superior Court (San Joaquin County)
Case #: C083669
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/09/2017

A restitution order is a "significant adverse collateral consequence" within the meaning of California Rules of Court, rule 8.851(a)(1)(A), requiring the appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant on appeal in a misdemeanor case. Harris pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury on a spouse in exchange for probation. He was ordered to serve a 45-day jail sentence and to pay various fines and fees totaling $735. After a restitution hearing, the court modified Harris' probation and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $1,571.32. Harris then filed a notice of appeal, explaining that…

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Name: People v. Ramos
Case #: B248512
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 11/21/2016

Self-represented defendant's constitutional right to counsel was violated when the trial court removed him from the courtroom during trial without appointing standby counsel to represent him. While on trial for making criminal threats and other offenses, Ramos elected to represent himself. Prior to opening statements the trial court excluded Ramos from the courtroom due to his disruptive behavior. No standby counsel was appointed to represent him during the prosecution's opening statements and direct examination of Garcia, the alleged victim of the threats. Ramos was then permitted to return to the courtroom and cross-examine the witness. He was found guilty and…

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Name: United States v. Yamashiro
Case #: 12-50608
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/12/2015

Trial court committed structural error when it allowed victim allocution to proceed when the defendant's attorney was not present. Yamashiro pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. At sentencing, he requested a substitution of counsel, which the district court granted, and a new date was set for sentencing. Before Yamashiro's new counsel arrived, the court listened to allocution from one victim witness. Yamashiro's original counsel remained in court during the allocution, but the court said that he did not have to do anything. At Yamashiro's rescheduled sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced him to 189 months, even though the…

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Name: People v. Velasco-Palacios
Case #: F068833
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/23/2015

Dismissal of charges is appropriate remedy where a prosecutor falsified an interrogation transcript to include an admission by the defendant. Appellant was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14 (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a)). During plea negotiations, the prosecutor gave defense counsel a transcript of appellant's police interrogation that indicated appellant had admitted to police that he was a child molester. Based on the transcript, defense counsel encouraged appellant to take a deal so he could avoid charges carrying a life sentence. Appellant, however, denied making any admission to police and refused…

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Name: Frost v. Boening
Case #: 11-35114
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 04/24/2014

Trial court's preclusion of inconsistent defenses during closing argument is structural constitutional error requiring reversal. Frost was convicted of five different robberies and given a 55-year prison term. He offered two defenses during opening argument: The prosecution failed to prove his involvement rose to the level of an accomplice and, in any event, his actions were the result of duress. The trial court stated that duress could be raised only after the defendant admitted the elements of the crimes had been proved. It warned the defense not to argue both reasonable doubt and duress in closing. As a result, the…

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Name: U.S. v. Botello-Rosales
Case #: 12-30074
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/15/2013

Denial of motion to suppress reversed where officer's translation of Miranda warning did not adequately convey to defendant his right to appointed counsel. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to federal drug and weapons charges after his motion to suppress his post-arrest statements to police was denied. He appealed. Held: Reversed. When a detective gave a Spanish language Miranda warning to defendant, he informed him that if he lacked money to pay for a lawyer, "one, who is free, could be given to [him]." The Spanish word "libre" was used to convey the attorney would be provided without charge. However,…

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