New Case Law

This is not a complete review of new published criminal cases; it is only recent cases that appear to have some element favorable to the defense, be decided by the Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, or a California court and be of interest to the webpage owner. Before using any of the pleadings, consult an attorney and read our disclaimer.  Use <ctrl><F> to search for keywords.


People v. Arredondo, California Supreme Court, December 16, 2019

Summary: An adult witness began crying on the stand, so the court positioned a computer monitor between her and the defendant.  This violated the defendant’s Confrontation rights.  The court explained, “To find that an accommodation was constitutionally permissible merely because F.R. — a young adult — started crying the first time she entered the courtroom and the court took a short recess to allow her to compose herself, would give courts license to abridge the right of face-to-face confrontation almost any time a witness breaks down on the stand.”

Sample Motion in Limine – not yet complete

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Confrontation, Limine, Accommodation, Cry


People v. Rubio, California Court of Appeal, December 16, 2019

Summary: Officers responded to a “shots fired” call in a high crime neighborhood.  Defendant exited a garage and confronted police, “yelling for them to shoot him.”  Officers broke into the garage, found contraband, and later returned with a search warrant.  The initial entry violated the Fourth Amendment.  The court explained, “If a man lives in a high crime neighborhood and somebody discharges a firearm outside his home, may the police break down his door and enter his apartment when he refuses to invite them in to investigate? The Fourth Amendment answers a resounding “no”…”

Sample Motion to Suppress: Download

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Suppress, Fourth, Warrant, Privacy, Home, Residence


People v. Fish, California Court of Appeal, November 27, 2019

Summary: Defendant was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident.  “Based on [Defendant’s] statements to law enforcement officers after the collision that he was under the care of a psychotherapist who had prescribed him certain antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, the prosecution subpoenaed the psychotherapist’s (and his medical group’s) treatment records. [Defendant] moved to quash the subpoenas on the basis they sought information protected by the psychotherapist-patient privilege.”  The court held that the defendant disclosed only that his psychotherapist had prescribed him certain antidepressant and antipsychotic medications. This was not a significant part of his communications with his psychotherapist for purposes of waiving the psychotherapist/patient privilege.

Sample Motion in Limine: Download Soon

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Medical Records, Psychotherapist, Privilege, Mental Health


People v. Johnson, California Supreme Court, November 25, 2019

Summary: In this capital case, the Supreme Court found several errors, but affirmed death.

The court explained that evidence of lack of remorse is generally inadmissible – “A lack of remorse is not enumerated as an aggravating factor under section 190.3. A prosecutor, therefore, should not argue that the absence of remorse is a factor in aggravation.”

The court explained that evidence of other crimes must meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard – “Section 190.3, factor (b) permits the jury to consider the “presence or absence of criminal activity by the defendant which involved the use or attempted use of force or violence or the
express or implied threat to use force or violence.” Before the evidence is presented to the jury, the trial court must determine that the evidence offered would allow a rational trier of fact to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the criminal activity alleged under factor (b). (People v. Clair (1992) 2 Cal.4th 629, 676.)”

Sample Motion in Limine – Lack of Remorse: Download

Sample Motion in Limine – Prohibit Use of Bad Acts: Download

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Capital, Death Penalty, Aggravation, Remorse, Bad Acts, Prior Acts, Prior Conduct


People v. Lopez, California Supreme Court, November 25, 2019

Summary: “Acting on an anonymous tip about a motorist’s erratic driving, a police officer approached defendant Maria Elena Lopez after she parked and exited her car. When the officer asked if she had a driver’s license, she said she did not. Police then detained her for unlicensed driving and, without asking her name, searched the car for Lopez’s personal identification. They found methamphetamine in a purse sitting on the front passenger’s seat.”  The Supreme Court found the search unconstitutional, stating “we now hold the Fourth Amendment does not contain an exception to the warrant requirement for searches to locate a driver’s identification following a traffic stop.”

Sample Motion to Suppress: Download

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Suppress, Fourth, Warrant, Privacy, Vehicle, Traffic, Identification


People v. Coneal, California Court of Appeal, November 6, 2019

Summary: Defendant was charged with a gang-related murder,  The Prosecution showed the jury multiple rap videos from different artists that had been downloaded from YouTube, some of which depicted Defendant.  A gang expert explained and interpreted the videos and the lyrics.  The court found admission of the videos improper, noting:

Our Supreme Court recently reiterated its advisement that “gang-related evidence ‘creates a risk the jury will improperly infer the defendant has a criminal disposition’ and that such evidence should therefore ‘be carefully scrutinized by trial courts.’ ” (People v. Mendez (2019) 7 Cal.5th 680, 691.) This caution applies with particular force to rap songs that promote and glorify violence. Trial courts should carefully consider whether
the potential for prejudice posed by these songs outweighs their probative value. In particular, where the rap lyrics are cumulative of other evidence, like screenshots, or where the probative value rests on construing the lyrics literally without a persuasive basis to do so, the probative value will often be “substantially outweighed by [the] prejudicial effect.” [fn] (Carter, supra, 30 Cal.4th at p. 1194.)

This was such a case. The probative value of the videos and lyrics was minimal in light of the substantial amount of other evidence and the absence of a persuasive basis to construe specific lyrics literally. Weighing this minimal probative value against the significant prejudicial effect, we conclude the admission of the rap videos was an abuse of discretion under Evidence Code section 352.

Sample Motion in Limine: Download Soon

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Rap, Video, YouTube, Gang


In Re: Jeremiah S., California Court of Appeal, October 18, 2019

Summary: The victim of a purse snatching reported that her purse and phone had been taken by two Black males.  A ping of the phone traced it to the area where Defendant was found.  Officers conducted a patdown search and located the phone.  Defendant argued that the patdown search was illegal.  The Court of Appeal agreed, stating: “the officer who conducted the patsearch did not present specific and articulable facts to support a reasonable suspicion that Jeremiah was armed and dangerous. In so concluding, we decline to recognize a rule that would essentially validate any patsearch of a suspected robber who is lawfully detained following a report of a fresh robbery, regardless of the particular circumstances.”

Sample Motion in Limine: Download

Court Opinion: Download

Keywords: Patdown, Search, Suppress, Probable Cause


 

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