The Cal. Supremes issued no new cases today, Monday.
The Cal. Supremes issued no new cases yesterday, Christmas Day.
The Cal. Supremes issued no new cases yesterday and will issue no new ones Monday.
The Cal. Supremes issued no new criminal cases today.
Error to fail to conduct evidentiary hearing on motion to recuse prosecutors
“Penal Code section 1424 permits a defendant to seek to recuse a prosecutor for an alleged conflict of interest. The statute establishes a two-stage process. Initially, the defendant files a notice of motion containing ‘a statement of the facts setting forth the grounds for the claimed disqualification and the legal authorities relied upon by the moving party’: The factual allegations must be supported by ‘affidavits of witnesses who are competent to testify to the facts set forth in the affidavit.’ (§ 1424, subd. (a)(1).) The district attorney and the Attorney General may file affidavits in opposition to the motion. (Ibid.) After reviewing the motion and affidavits, the trial court exercises its discretion in determining whether the second stage, an evidentiary hearing, is necessary. (Ibid.) An evidentiary hearing may be required if the defendant’s affidavits establish a prima facie showing for recusal; that is, if the facts demonstrated by the affidavits, if credited, would require recusal. (Spaccia v. Superior Court (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 93, 111-112 (Spaccia).) In some instances, the affidavits might present disputed material facts, the resolution of which may depend largely upon the affiants’ veracity and credibility under circumstances that can be determined only by holding an evidentiary hearing. If those credibility and veracity determinations, resolved in defendant’s favor, would demonstrate that the conflict is so grave as to make a fair trial unlikely, the trial court abuses its discretion by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing.”
“It is not difficult to understand and to sympathize with a parent’s strong inclination to protect his or her children from being drawn into the role of witness in a death penalty case, and a prosecutor who is a parent is, of course, not immune from such feelings. At the same time, however, a criminal defendant’s right to present potentially favorable witnesses on his behalf is a fundamental right — a right that takes on added significance in the capital setting. In light of the affidavits submitted in support of and in opposition to petitioner’s motion to recuse the prosecutor under section 1424, and the conflicts and contradictions reflected in those affidavits, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in declining to hold an evidentiary hearing. A hearing was necessary to determine whether the conflict in this case would render it unlikely that petitioner would receive a fair trial if the prosecutor is not recused as lead prosecutor in the underlying proceeding.”
Coming tomorrow from the Cal. Supremes:
PACKER (JOSHUA GRAHAM) v. SUPERIOR COURT (PEOPLE)
S213894 (B245923; Ventura County Superior Court – Nos. 2010013013 & 2012015764)
Argued in San Francisco 10-07-14
The court limited review to the following issue: Did the trial court abuse its discretion by denying a motion for recusal without an evidentiary hearing on the grounds that defendant failed to make a prima facie showing that recusal was warranted?
Trial courts must conduct hearings on claim of juror misconduct
“The Court of Appeal found—and the parties do not dispute—that the discussion of defendants’ decisions not to testify constituted misconduct that raised a presumption of prejudice. The Court of Appeal also found—and the parties do not dispute—that the trial court failed to recognize and resolve a conflict in the evidence as to whether the foreperson did in fact remind the jury of the court’s instructions to disregard defendants’ decisions not to testify. But the Court of Appeal deemed it unnecessary to remand the matter to the trial court to resolve that evidentiary conflict. The appellate court instead reasoned that the misconduct was prejudicial—even assuming the foreperson had promptly and correctly reminded the jury of the court’s instructions—because the jury’s discussion involved “an inference of guilt based on [defendants’] failure to testify.” The Court of Appeal therefore reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial.
“Reviewing the issue of prejudice from juror misconduct independently, as is our duty, we find that the Court of Appeal erred in declaring the misconduct in discussing defendants’ decisions not to testify to be categorically prejudicial without considering whether the jury was promptly reminded of the court’s instructions to disregard defendants’ decisions not to testify or whether any objective evidence in the record indicated that the reminder of the court’s instructions would have been ineffective. We therefore reverse the Court of Appeal and remand the matter to the trial court to determine in the first instance the nature and scope of the misconduct, the existence and timing of any reminder of the court’s instructions to disregard defendants’ decisions not to testify, as well as any other material disputed facts, and to reconsider the motion for new trial.”