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Name: People v. Rodriguez
Case #: S251706
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/21/2020

Opinion By: Justice Groban (unanimous decision)
The prosecutor impermissibly vouched for witness credibility by asserting in closing argument that two testifying officers would not put their careers at risk by falsely testifying. Rodriguez, a prison inmate, was convicted of assault and battery offenses based on evidence that he struck a correctional officer and attempted to hit others. Two correctional officers testified regarding the incident. Their testimony included the number of years they worked for CDCR. During closing argument, over defense objection, the prosecution argued the officers were credible because they would not put their careers at risk or…

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Name: People v. Meneses
Case #: G055942
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/10/2019

Jury instruction allowing one proved sexual offense to be used to show a defendant's propensity to commit the other charged sex offenses correctly stated the law. A jury found defendant guilty of four counts of committing a lewd act upon a child and found One Strike, multiple victim sentencing allegations true. On appeal he argued the trial court erred by instructing the jury it could rely on currently charged offenses to find he had committed the other charged offenses (CALCRIM No. 1191B). Held: Affirmed. The jury was instructed that if the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed…

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Name: People v. Arredondo
Case #: D072632
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/19/2018

Prosecutor's repeated references to defendants as "cockroaches" who pose a danger to the community mandates reversal of gang enhancements. A jury convicted the defendants of first degree murder and found true the special circumstance allegations the murder was committed during the course of a kidnapping and a robbery. A gun use enhancement was found true as to defendant Arredondo, as well as gang enhancements as to both defendants. On appeal, defendants argued the prosecutor's theme the defendants and other gang members are "cockroaches" who present a danger to the public, was prejudicial misconduct. Held: Reversed in part. "A prosecutor's use…

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Name: People v. Forrest
Case #: B261130
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/25/2017

Prosecutor's misstatements concerning the interplay between voluntary intoxication and intent in a first degree murder trial were forfeited and harmless. Forrest shot his wife in the head then moved her body into a bath tub and disemboweled her. He documented the process and his thoughts in writing. His defenses were voluntary intoxication and heat of passion. The jury convicted him of first degree murder. He appealed, arguing, among other things, that the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument by misstating the law concerning the impact of voluntary intoxication. Held: Affirmed. As a threshold matter, Forrest forfeited the contention because…

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Name: People v. Denard
Case #: B253464
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/03/2015

Under the least adjudicated elements test, the evidence of defendant's Florida burglary prior was insufficient to prove it qualified as a California strike prior. Denard was convicted of second degree burglary. In a bifurcated proceeding, the prosecution presented documentary evidence of Denard's Florida burglary, which did not contain any of the facts of the offense. The court found two strike priors true. Denard appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to prove a Florida burglary conviction was a strike. Held: Reversed. In order for a prior conviction from another jurisdiction to qualify as a strike prior in California, it must…

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Name: People v. Reese
Case #: B253610
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 09/17/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 1/13/2016 (S230259)

The trial court did not violate defendant's right to equal protection when it denied his request for transcripts of the opening statements and closing arguments presented during his first trial, which ended in a hung jury. Reese was charged with making criminal threats and other offenses. His first trial ended in a hung jury. Prior to retrial, Reese, who was representing himself, moved for a complete transcript of the first trial. The trial court provided him with transcripts of the witnesses' testimony, but not the opening statements and closing arguments. Reese's request for the missing transcripts was denied.…

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Name: People v. Centeno
Case #: S209957
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/04/2014

Prosecutor's use of diagram to illustrate reasonable doubt standard and argument urging conviction based on "reasonable" view of the evidence likely misled jury about the applicable standard of proof. Centeno was convicted of two counts of lewd acts against a minor under the age of 14 (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (a)). During the prosecutor's closing rebuttal, she showed the jurors an outline of the geographical boundary of California and then asked, hypothetically, if they could identify what state was shown beyond a reasonable doubt if provided with the following evidence: (1) a witness' testimony that the state is located…

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Name: People v. Salazar
Case #: F066025
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/09/2014

Trial court properly allowed additional closing arguments after question posed by deliberating jury reflected it was at an impasse regarding carjacking charge. Appellant was charged with carjacking and receiving stolen property (the car). During deliberations the jury sent a note to the court stating it was having problems with count one, the carjacking, and wanted to know if it could rule on count two, receiving stolen property. In responding, the court mentioned other ways in which the court could assist the jury, including allowing additional argument. Subsequently the jury requested additional argument. The defense objected, requested a mistrial, and stated…

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Name: People v. Centeno
Case #: E054600
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/19/2013
Subsequent History: Review granted 6/26/13: S209957

A prosecutor's poorly worded description of reasonable doubt does not necessarily result in misconduct. Following the presentation of evidence in appellant's trial for Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a), at closing argument, the prosecutor explained to the jury that reasonable doubt involves reflecting on the spectrum of possibilities that are supported by the evidence – from those that are impossible, to those that are unreasonable, and then to those that are reasonable and possible. He explained that the jury's decision has to be in the middle, based on reason. Appellant was convicted of the offenses. On appeal, he contended that…

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Name: People v. Otero
Case #: G045246
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/29/2012

A prosecutor's use of a chart to explain reasonable doubt is misconduct, subject to harmless error analysis. Appellant was charged with and convicted of several counts of sexual assault of a minor, and sentenced to prison for life terms. During closing argument, the prosecution displayed a PowerPoint diagram to explain reasonable doubt. The diagram had the outlines of the states of California and Nevada, without the names, but with information written on them that left no doubt as to the identity of the states, even with the misinformation that was included on the outline of California. Using the diagram in…

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