Archive for August, 2016

No new criminal cases Monday

August 26, 2016 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new criminal cases Monday.


No new cases tomorrow

August 24, 2016 Comments off

No new cases will be issued by the Cal. Supremes tomorrow.

Death penalty reversed for exclusion of favorable defense hearsay

August 22, 2016 Comments off

Death penalty reversed for exclusion of favorable defense hearsay

“Over defendant’s objection, the trial court excluded certain statements made by the actual killer of the murder victim in which the killer claimed that he acted alone in committing the murder and that defendant was not involved.  After an initial opinion was filed in this case, we granted rehearing to clarify the application of the hearsay exception for statements against the declarant’s interest.  (Evid. Code, § 1230.)  We now conclude that the trial court erred in excluding the statements.  Although the error does not require reversal of the murder conviction and the special circumstance findings, it does require reversal of the judgment of death.”

People v. Grimes


Judge who granted first 1538.5 must hear refiled case

August 22, 2016 Comments off

Judge who granted first 1538.5 must hear refiled case

Criminal defendants routinely file motions at the outset of their cases to suppress the evidence against them.  When a judge grants such a motion, the prosecution may decide to dismiss the case and refile charges.  But if the prosecution does refile such charges, Penal Code section 1538.5, subdivision (p) provides that any suppression motion the defendant subsequently files must be heard by the “same judge” who granted the prior motion so long as that judge is “available.”  The question before us is whether trial courts are vested with discretion to decide whether a judge is available under section 1538.5(p), and if so, what limitations constrain that discretion.

What we hold is that although trial courts possess broad discretion to distribute business within their courts and make determinations concerning the availability of judges, that discretion must be exercised in a manner consistent with constraints imposed by section 1538.5(p).  In light of the statute’s text, as well as its purpose of prohibiting prosecutorial forum shopping, the trial court’s discretion should be exercised in accordance with the following understanding:  A judge may be found unavailable for purposes of section 1538.5(p) only if the trial court, acting in good faith and taking reasonable steps, cannot arrange for that judge to hear the motion.  The trial court must make its finding of unavailability on the record.

Because the trial court below did not take reasonable measures to ensure compliance with section 1538.5(p), we find an abuse of discretion.  And because the resulting error was prejudicial, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand the case with directions that the Court of Appeal instruct the trial court to determine on the record whether the relevant judge is now available.


People v. Rodriguez


Coming Monday

August 19, 2016 Comments off

Coming Monday from the Cal. Supremes:


S223129 (H038588; Santa Clara County Superior Court – C1110340)

Argued in San Francisco 5-27-16


This case presents the following issue:  When the prosecution refiled charges after defendant’s motion to suppress evidence was granted and the case was dismissed, did the trial court err in refusing to assign a subsequent suppression motion to “the same judge who granted the [prior] motion” in accordance with Penal Code section 1538.5, subdivision (p), on the ground the prior judge was not “available” to hear the motion when he was then sitting in a different courthouse?



S076339 (Shasta County Superior Court – 95F7785)

Argued in San Francisco 5-26-16


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

Larceny under Penal Code section 484(a) and embezzlement under Penal Code section 503 are different statements of the same offense.

August 18, 2016 Comments off

Larceny under Penal  Code section 484(a) and embezzlement under Penal Code section 503 are different statements of the same offense.

“Here we consider whether a defendant may be convicted of both grand theft by larceny and embezzlement based on the same course of conduct.  (Pen. Code, §§ 484, subd. (a), 487, subd. (a), 503.)  We conclude a defendant cannot be convicted of both crimes, and therefore affirm the Court of Appeal’s judgment. ”

People v. Vidana


Coming tomorrow

August 17, 2016 Comments off

Tomorrow the Cal. Supremes will issue an opinion in the following case:


S224546 (G050399; Riverside County Superior Court – RIF1105527)

Argued in San Francisco 5-26-16

This case presents the following issue:  Can a defendant be convicted of both embezzlement (Pen. Code, § 503) and grand theft by larceny (Pen. Code, § 487(a)) for the same conduct?