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Name: People v. Lena
Case #: A138474
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/22/2017

Trial court properly struck defendant's direct examination testimony as a sanction for refusing to answer any of the prosecutor's questions on cross-examination. Lena testified during his trial for assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (d)(2)) and other offenses. However, he refused to answer any of the prosecutor's questions on cross-examination, despite being warned by the trial court that his failure to do so would result in his direct testimony being stricken. The court struck his direct testimony. The jury convicted Lena and he appealed. Held: Affirmed. A trial court may impose sanctions…

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Name: People v. Valenti
Case #: B255727
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/14/2016

The ex post facto clauses prohibit imposition of One Strike sentences (Pen. Code, § 667.61) for continuous sexual abuse of children (Pen. Code, § 288.5) that occurred entirely before 2006. A jury convicted defendant of a number of offenses arising from his sexual abuse of 15 children over nearly 30 years, including five counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child with a multiple-victim allegation for each count. For each count of continuous sexual abuse, the court imposed a consecutive term of 15 years to life under the One Strike law. Defendant appealed, arguing, inter alia, that four of the…

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Name: People v. Poletti
Case #: H040412
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/01/2015

Even if trial court erred by admitting evidence defendant committed uncharged rapes without instructing the jury he was acquitted of them, the error was not prejudicial. Poletti was charged with numerous sex offenses based on evidence that he sexually abused his stepdaughter. After his first trial, the jury acquitted Poletti of one count of forcible rape and one count of lewd acts upon a child aged 14 or 15, but convicted him of 15 other offenses. On appeal, the court reversed another forcible rape count for insufficient evidence. The court also reversed other counts of various forms of…

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Name: People v. Morris
Case #: B254910
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 06/10/2015

Defendant's right to a fair trial was prejudicially abridged when the trial court allowed a juror who was dismissed during trial to be called as a prosecution witness. A jury convicted Morris of possession of cocaine base for sale. At trial, evidence was admitted that police officers conducted a search of an apartment and drugs and money were found. Morris' wallet, containing his identification, was also found. A series of text messages discovered on his cell phone indicated he was involved in drug sales. A defense witness, Vinoya, testified the money found in the apartment was hers and that Morris…

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Name: People v. Murillo
Case #: B246522
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 11/13/2014

Trial court should have granted a mistrial where prosecution asked over 100 leading questions of a witness who refused to testify. During Murillo's trial for first degree murder, the prosecution called Valencia, an eyewitness who had identified Murillo as the shooter, to testify. Valencia refused to testify, stating "I've got nothing to say." Over defense objections, the trial court then allowed the prosecutor to ask 110 leading questions about Valencia's out of court statements and to display the photographic lineups on which he had written that Murillo was the shooter. A motion for mistrial was denied, and the jury convicted…

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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: B239867
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 11/26/2013

It was harmless error for the trial court to allow the bailiff, outside defendant's presence, to demonstrate the operation of the murder weapon and to answer jury questions regarding the weapon. Johnson, a CHP officer, was convicted by jury of the first degree murder of her husband. On appeal Johnson claimed her right to be present during trial was violated when the trial court, outside her presence, allowed the bailiff to demonstrate the operation of the murder weapon (a gun) to the jury and answer questions regarding the weapon. Held: Affirmed. The federal and state Constitutions and Penal Code sections…

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Name: People v. Lujan
Case #: B231123
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 12/17/2012

A child witness who is not a victim, but who will be traumatized by a face-to-face confrontation, may testify remotely without violating a defendant's confrontation rights. Defendant was tried for the torture and beating of several children, one of whom died. He challenged the trial court's order allowing a child witness to testify remotely, claiming the procedure violated his confrontation right. Held: Affirmed. In Maryland v. Craig (1990) 497 U.S. 836, the court held that under certain circumstances a child abuse victim could testify remotely without violating a defendant's right to confront adverse witnesses. Here, the trial court determined the…

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Name: People v. Franzen
Case #: H037217
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/06/2012

Internet data base ("Entersect") which is used by police to identify a cell phone owner is not admissible under the "published compilation" exception to the hearsay rule. An undercover police officer arranged a purchase of methamphetamine after responding to an ad on Craig's List. The officer received several telephone calls regarding the purchase and recorded the numbers from which the calls originated. When he arrived at a predetermined location, appellant and a male companion were there to make the sale. Appellant was arrested and convicted of various drug offenses. On appeal, she argued the trial court erred in admitting Internet…

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Name: Cudjo v. Ayers
Case #: 08-99028
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/28/2012

Exclusion of exculpatory testimony as unreliable hearsay violates the defendant’s due process right to present a defense. Petitioner was charged with the 1986 killing of a woman. After a hearing outside the jury's presence, the trial court excluded testimony of a man, Culver, who would have testified that he was incarcerated with petitioner's brother shortly after the murder and the brother admitted killing the woman during a failed robbery attempt. Although the court found the statement was against the brother's penal interest and therefore an exception to the hearsay rule, it excluded the evidence because it lacked the necessary indicia…

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Name: People v. Covarrubias
Case #: D058298
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/20/2011

The trial court erred in admitting expert testimony regarding the practices of drug trafficking organizations where there was no evidence appellant was a member of such an organization. Appellant was apprehended at the San Ysidro border crossing when authorities found 193 pounds of marijuana in his truck. He was found guilty of possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana. Appellant contended the trial court erred in admitting, over defense objection, expert testimony regarding the structure and operations of drug trafficking organizations. The Court of Appeal discussed federal cases which found such evidence inadmissible under the federal equivalent of…

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