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Name: People v. Gefrerer
Case #: D082223
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/06/2024

Trial court properly declined to instruct the jury on grand theft as a lesser included offense of robbery, where there was no substantial evidence defendant took the property without force or fear. Defendant entered two banks, each time passing the teller a note stating, “Give me $5000. Don’t play.” The tellers were afraid and complied, and defendant departed with the money. The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's two robbery convictions, concluding that no substantial evidence supported giving the lesser instruction on theft. Even if the record contained substantial evidence, the doctrine of invited error would bar defendant’s argument that the…

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Name: People v. Arias (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 1163
Case #: A164789
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/10/2024

Where the record failed to support the trial court’s unexplained third-stage ruling that the peremptory challenge of a juror was not discriminatory, reversal was required. In a child molestation case, the defense made a Batson/Wheeler motion as to the prosecutor’s striking of a Black prospective juror. The trial court accepted the prosecutor’s reasons for the striking, and denied the motion. However, the prosecutor’s first reason was unsupported by the record, the second reason was “deeply troubling,” and the third reason was of apparently minor significance to the prosecutor. The trial court’s uncritical crediting of these reasons was unreasonable given the record of voir…

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Name: People v. Uriostegui (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 271
Case #: B325200
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/05/2024

A peremptory challenge violates Penal Code section 231.7 when a facially neutral reason to remove a juror is based on a presumptively invalid reason, absent certain permitted reasons and findings by the trial court. Appellant was charged with residential burglary. During voir dire, the prosecutor used a peremptory challenge to dismiss T.N., who had a Spanish surname, because of her “lack of life experience,” reasoning that T.N. was young, had worked at Taco Bell, was not currently employed, and seemed reluctant, timid, and malleable. The defense objected, arguing that the reasons were invalid under section 231.7. The trial court denied…

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Name: People v. Brooks (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 323
Case #: D080776
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/30/2024

Where the victim in a domestic violence case did not take the stand but asserted a valid Fifth Amendment privilege through counsel, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury with CALCRIM No. 320 regarding her failure to testify. A jury found defendant guilty of both inflicting corporal injury on a domestic partner, R.J., and committing assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. R.J. did not testify at trial but the court instructed the jury that R.J. had asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. On appeal, defendant argued that because R.J. was not called and…

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Name: People v. Jimenez (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 534
Case #: D081267
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/03/2024
Subsequent History: Ordered published 2/6/2024

Defendant did not demonstrate that the prosecutor improperly exercised a peremptory challenge as to a prospective juror in violation of Code of Civil Procedure section 231.7. Prospective Juror Number 8 was a Latina who worked as a secretary for a school district. During voir dire, she stated she believed the law was imposed differently depending on a person’s skin color. Defense counsel objected under section 237.1 when the prosecutor sought to dismiss Juror No. 8 using a peremptory challenge. The prosecutor provided the following reasons for the challenge: (1) Juror No. 8’s beliefs about the racial bias of law enforcement officers;…

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Name: People v. McCray (2023) 98 Cal.App.5th 260
Case #: A166084
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 12/22/2023

Record failed to show that OMHD defendant validly waived his right to a jury where the trial court did not take any steps to determine if defendant understood his jury right and instead relied on counsel’s perfunctory questioning. Following a bench trial, McCray was recommitted as a violent offender with a mental health disorder (OMHD). On appeal, McCray raised a number of issues, including that the trial court failed to obtain from him a knowing and intelligent waiver of his right to a jury. While the appeal was pending, the recommitment at issue expired and McCray was recommitted based on…

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Name: People v. Hall (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 1084
Case #: A165406
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/13/2023

Senate Bill No. 567’s amendments to Penal Code section 1170(b)(1) do not require the prosecution to “plead” aggravating factors that it intends to urge at sentencing. In 2022, defendant pleaded no contest to two counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 years (§ 288(a)). At sentencing, the court found no mitigating factors and seven aggravating factors set forth in California Rules of Court, rule 4.421, and sentenced defendant to 10 years in prison, which included the upper term on one of the two counts. On appeal, defendant argued the aggravating factors found…

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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. Ortiz (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 768
Case #: H050117
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/23/2023

Prosecutor’s use of a peremptory challenge against a Black prospective juror based on his failure to answer questions, his confusion about questions, and his evasiveness did not violate Code of Civil Procedure section 231.7. Following a jury trial, Ortiz was convicted of felony offenses. On appeal, he argued the trial court erred by overruling his section 231.7 objection to the prosecutor’s use of a peremptory challenge against a Black prospective juror, S.H. Held: Affirmed. The prosecutor’s reasons for challenging S.H. triggered an inquiry under section 231.7(g), which contains a list of presumptively invalid reasons for exercising a peremptory challenge related…

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Name: People v. Hampton (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 965
Case #: A165957
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/25/2023

Substitute trial judge did not engage in improper conduct or violate defendant’s right to a fair trial by consulting with the prior judge about her ruling on remote jury deliberations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hampton was convicted of felony offenses after robbing a restaurant. At his trial, the first judge made rulings on whether jurors would be permitted to deliberate remotely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was then replaced due to a personal emergency. During deliberations, after all the alternate jurors had already been seated on the jury, a juror needed to quarantine. The substitute judge consulted with…

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