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Archive for June, 2015

Death penalty reversed for improper exclusion of prospective jurors

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Death penalty reversed for improper exclusion of prospective jurors

People v. Leon

S0567566

“During a month-long crime spree in Los Angeles County, defendant Richard Leon committed a string of armed robberies, murdered two store clerks, and was eventually arrested after a high-speed chase. A jury convicted him of two counts of murder, 16 counts of robbery, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts relating to the chase. It found defendant personally used a firearm during all offenses except the evasion charges and one robbery. It found true the special circumstances of robbery murder and multiple murder and fixed the penalty at death. We affirm the conviction but reverse the penalty determination due to the erroneous exclusion of three prospective jurors.”

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S056766.PDF

Coming Monday

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Coming Monday from the Cal. Supremes:

 

PEOPLE v. LEON (RICHARD)

S056766 (Los Angeles County Superior Court – PA012903)

Argued in Los Angeles 4-07-15

This matter is an automatic appeal from a judgment of death.

Questions about gang affiliation during booking requires Miranda

June 25, 2015 Comments off

Questions about gang affiliation during booking requires Miranda

People v. Elizalde

S215260

“Under the rule of Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 478-479 (Miranda), certain admonitions must be given before a suspect’s statement made during custodial interrogation can be admitted in the prosecution’s case-in-chief. Here we consider whether routine questions about gang affiliation, posed to defendant while processing him into jail on murder charges, come within Miranda’s well-recognized booking exception. We hold that the questions exceeded the scope of the exception and that officers should have known these questions were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response because of California’s criminal gang statutes and defendant’s pending charges. While officers were permitted to ask these questions for institutional security purposes, defendant’s un-Mirandized responses were inadmissible against him during the case-in-chief. We nonetheless find that admission of the statements was not prejudicial. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which reached the same conclusions.”

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S215260.PDF

Coming tomorrow

June 24, 2015 Comments off

Coming tomorrow from the Cal. Supremes:

PEOPLE v. ELIZALDE (GAMALIEL) et al.

S215260 (A132071; Contra Costa County Superior Court – 050809038)

Argued in San Francisco 5-06-15

The court limited review to the following issues: (1) Was defendant subjected to custodial interrogation without the benefit of warnings under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, when he was questioned about his gang affiliation during an interview while being booked into jail, or did the questioning fall within the booking exception to Miranda? (2) If the questioning fell outside the booking exception, was defendant prejudiced by the admission of his incriminating statements at trial?

Habeas relief denied: no evidence of improper bailiff communications; no ineffective assistance of counsel

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Habeas relief denied: no evidence of improper bailiff communications; no ineffective assistance of counsel

In re Welch

S107782

David Esco Welch filed an original habeas corpus petition in this court claiming he should be granted relief from his multiple murder convictions and death sentence. We issued an order to show cause with respect to two of Welch’s claims: (1) that prejudicial juror misconduct occurred when jurors were exposed to improper communications by the bailiff or bailiffs, and (2) that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate and introduce evidence that Welch suffered from serious child abuse.

After an evidentiary hearing, the referee concluded (1) that there was no credible evidence of improper communications from the bailiffs to the jury and (2) that trial counsel performed deficiently at the penalty phase of Welch’s trial by failing to investigate and introduce testimony from family members that Welch suffered from serious child abuse.

As to the first issue, we agree with the referee’s conclusion that there was no credible evidence of juror misconduct. As to the second issue, we conclude that in light of the strong aggravating evidence against Welch, as well as the mitigating evidence introduced at trial, the additional mitigating evidence that trial counsel could have introduced would not have bolstered Welch’s mental illness defense to such an extent as to undermine confidence in the penalty verdict. Nor would it have likely resulted in a successful alternative defense based on sympathy for Welch as the victim of child abuse. We therefore hold that Welch is not entitled to relief.

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S107782.PDF

No cases tomorrow

June 17, 2015 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases tomorrow, Thursday.

Firearm used can’t be used to enhance for firearm and gang

June 15, 2015 Comments off

Firearm used can’t be used to enhance for firearm and gang

People v. Le

S202921

In People v. Rodriguez (2009) 47 Cal.4th 501 (Rodriguez), we held that a defendant’s single act of personally using a gun during the commission of a felony could not be used to support both a sentence enhancement for personal use of a firearm under Penal Code section 12022.5, former subdivision (a)(1), and to elevate the punishment for a criminal street gang allegation to a “violent felony” under section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(C). We explained that the application of both enhancements in that case depended on the defendant’s use of a firearm, and that subdivision (f) of section 1170.1 prohibits imposing two sentence enhancements when both enhancements are “ ‘for being armed with or using a dangerous or deadly weapon or a firearm in the commission of a single offense.’ ” (Rodriguez, supra, at p. 508, quoting § 1170.1, subd. (f), italics omitted.)

We granted review in this case to decide whether section 1170.1, subdivision (f) also precludes a trial court from imposing both a firearm enhancement under section 12022.5, former subdivision (a)(1), and a gang enhancement under section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(B), in connection with a single offense, when the offense is a “serious felony” under section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(B) and involved the use of a firearm. In the present case, because both enhancements again depend on defendant’s firearm use, we conclude that section 1170.1, subdivision (f) bars the imposition of both enhancements.

http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S202921.PDF