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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. Aranda (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 311
Case #: G061394
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/07/2023

Code of Civil Procedure section 231.7, which provides that a juror’s general distrust of police officers is a presumptively invalid reason to exercise a peremptory challenge, does not apply to challenges for cause against prospective jurors. Aranda was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility. During jury selection, the People exercised a challenge for cause against a prospective juror who admitted she would hold police officers to a higher standard of credibility than other witnesses. The trial court overruled Aranda’s objection and excused the juror. Aranda was convicted and appealed, arguing that the People’s challenge was…

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Name: United States v. Kechedzian
Case #: 16-50326
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/04/2018

Trial court committed reversible error when it failed to excuse a challenged juror who demonstrated an actual bias. During voir dire at appellant's trial in federal court for charges of aggravated identity theft and related offenses, the district court refused to dismiss a prospective juror for bias even though the juror never affirmatively stated she could be impartial. Juror #3 disclosed that she was a victim of identity theft and was asked three times if she could be impartial, and each time she replied equivocally: "I might be able to put that aside"; "I would want to put my personal…

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Name: People v. Romero
Case #: B277631
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/23/2017

Trial court's failure to discharge a juror after she disclosed a past teacher-student relationship with a witness was a structural error that requires automatic reversal. Romero was charged with several sex crimes against two women. During a break that took place after one of the victims started her testimony, a juror disclosed that the victim was a former student. The court asked the juror if she could set aside her experience with the victim and be fair and impartial to both sides. The juror responded that she remembered positive things about the victim, that she was a good, diligent student…

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Name: People v. Arellano
Case #: F068958
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/24/2016

Convictions for illegal gun possession and participation in a gang reversed where prosecution's reason for striking prospective black juror was pretextual. A jury convicted Arellano of possession of an assault weapon (Pen. Code, § 30605) and participation in a criminal street gang (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (a)). During jury selection, the prosecution used peremptory challenges to excuse three black prospective. Arellano objected under Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79 and People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258, and the trial court denied the Batson/Wheeler motion. Arellano challenged this ruling on appeal. Held: Reversed. The prosecution's privilege to strike…

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Name: Shirley v. Yates
Case #: 13-16273
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/20/2015

Circumstantial evidence of a prosecutor's general jury selection approach was insufficient to overcome a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination. Shirley was convicted of burglary and robbery. He received a life sentence under the Three Strikes law. His convictions were affirmed in state court. He sought federal habeas relief on a Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79 claim. The district court found Shirley had made a prima facie showing of discrimination and heard testimony from the prosecutor regarding his reasons for the strikes. The prosecutor did not recall his actual reasons, but testified regarding his standard approach to jury…

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Name: Castellanos v. Small
Case #: 12-55783
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/09/2014

Murder conviction reversed where prosecution's reason for striking Hispanic juror was pretextual. Petitioner was convicted in California of murder and other offenses, committed when he was 17 years old. On appeal, the state court rejected his claim the prosecution improperly exercised four peremptory strikes against potential Hispanic jurors. Petitioner sought federal relief. Held: Reversed. Under AEDPA the federal court will not overturn a state court decision unless it is contrary to clearly established U.S. Supreme Court precedent or constitutes an unreasonable application of the facts. The clearly established federal law in this case is Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S.…

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Name: McDaniels v. Kirkland
Case #: 09-17339
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/25/2014

For a federal court to conduct a comparative jury analysis to review a state trial court's ruling in a Batson challenge, appellate counsel must insure that the record before the state appellate court includes the entire voir dire transcript and any juror questionnaires. McDaniels and Jenkins were charged with murder. They raised a Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79 claim after four African-Americans were excused during voir dire. The trial court found the defense established a prima facie case of discrimination but, after the prosecution offered race-neutral reasons for its challenges, denied the motion. The convictions were affirmed by…

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Name: People v. Black
Case #: S206928
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/27/2014

When a trial court's erroneous ruling requires a defendant to use a peremptory challenge and leaves him unable to exclude an objectionable juror from his case, reversal is not required unless an incompetent juror sits on the case. Appellant was charged with animal cruelty. During voir dire, appellant challenged two prospective jurors, M.P. and A.D., for cause. The court denied the challenges and appellant used two of his ten allotted peremptory challenges to remove the jurors. When Juror No. 8 was seated, appellant challenged him for cause, but the court denied the motion. Having used all his peremptory challenges, appellant…

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Name: Smith v. Swarthout
Case #: 11-17116
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/10/2014

Defendant did not show that juror's failure to disclose that he knew defendant was intentional, or that a correct response would have provided a valid challenge for cause. Smith assaulted his wife and forced a number of pills down her throat. He was charged with attempted murder and other offenses. A jury convicted him of corporal injury to his spouse and criminal threats; he admitted two strike priors. Smith received a life sentence. On appeal from denial of his federal writ petition, Smith made a number of claims involving jury misconduct. Held: Affirmed. To obtain a new trial based on…

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