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Another death penalty affirmed

June 21, 2018 Leave a comment

The Cal. Supremes affirmed another death penalty case:

People v. Ghobrial



Totality of circumstances test applies in cases of total absence of advisements and waivers of constitution rights

June 21, 2018 Leave a comment

Totality of circumstances test applies in cases of total absence of advisements and waivers of constitution rights

Defendant, Randolph Farwell, entered a stipulation through his counsel that admitted all of the elements of a charged crime, making it tantamount to a guilty plea. The question is how to assess the validity of the stipulation when Farwell was neither advised of, nor expressly waived, his privilege against self-incrimination, or his rights to jury trial and confrontation. People v. Howard (1992) 1 Cal.4th 1132 (Howard) held that a plea is valid notwithstanding the lack of express advisements and waivers “if the record affirmatively shows that it is voluntary and intelligent under the totality of the circumstances.” (Id. at p. 1175.) Some appellate courts have concluded, however, that the Howard test only applies to “incomplete” advisements but not to “silent records,” where there is a total absence of advisements and waivers. We hold that the totality of the circumstances test applies in silent record cases as well. Applying that test, the record fails to affirmatively show that Farwell understood his counsel’s stipulation had the effect of waiving his constitutional trial rights. The stipulation was the only basis for the jury’s misdemeanor verdict. We reverse the Court of Appeal’s judgment affirming that conviction.

People v. Farwell


Coming tomorrow

June 20, 2018 Leave a comment

Coming tomorrow from the Cal. Supremes:

S231009 (B257775; Los Angeles County Superior Court – TA130219)
Argued in Los Angeles 4-04-18

This case presents the following issues: (1) Does the “totality of the circumstances” test apply in determining whether a defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his constitutional rights before stipulating to an offense, if the record indicates that the trial court did not advise the defendant or obtain his waiver of rights at the time of the stipulation? (2) Under this test, are references to a defendant’s constitutional rights during earlier stages of the proceedings and the defendant’s criminal history sufficient to support the conclusion that the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived those rights when entering into to the stipulation?

S105908 (Orange County Superior Court – 98NF0906)
Argued in Los Angeles 4-03-18

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

Supreme Court finds no juror misconduct

June 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Supreme Court finds no juror misconduct

As explained above, the referee’s finding that the juror’s failure to disclose his 1995 misdemeanor conviction was “neither intentional nor deliberate supplies sufficient support for the ultimate conclusion that [the juror] was not biased against [Cowan].” (Boyette, supra, 56 Cal.4th at p. 890.) Cowan argues that the juror intentionally omitted his misdemeanor conviction so that he could be selected as a juror, lobby for a conviction and death sentence, and thereby earn good will with the District Attorney in the event he violated probation or sought early termination of his probation. This theory, however, is speculative and contrary to the evidence. The juror testified that his response to Question 30, which asked about his attitude toward serving on this jury, reflected his belief that this would be “a great opportunity to serve on a jury, to do something like that” and that “[p]robation didn’t even cross my mind.” He also testified that he was not trying “to fill out or not fill out any information on the questionnaire so [he] could be selected as a juror.” The referee was entitled to credit the juror’s testimony on these points. The fact that the juror never actually asked for favorable treatment further supports the referee’s finding. Having found no substantial likelihood that the juror harbored actual bias against Cowan, we conclude that Cowan is not entitled to relief based on his claim of juror misconduct.

In re Cowan


No new cases today

June 14, 2018 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases today.

No new cases Monday

June 8, 2018 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases Monday.

No new cases today

June 7, 2018 Comments off

The Cal. Supremes will issue no new cases today.