Articles Posted in Supreme Court of California

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In this habeas case, the Supreme Court held that Juror No. 045882, who, during Petitioner’s criminal proceedings, intentionally concealed that he had previously been convicted of public fighting and was then on probation, was not actually biased against Petitioner and that no prejudicial misconduct occurred. Petitioner was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to death. While his appeal was pending, Petitioner filed this habeas petition, alleging that Juror No. 045882 committed misconduct. This Court issued an order instructing the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to show cause why the Court should not grant Petitioner relief based on juror misconduct. A referee appointed by the Court concluded that the juror at issue was not actually biased. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed and discharged the order to show cause, holding that there was no substantial likelihood that the juror harbored actual bias against Petitioner. View "In re Cowan" on Justia Law

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As modified in this opinion, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for murdering two people during the commission of a robbery and his sentence of death. On appeal, the Supreme Court found only one error during the guilt and penalty phases of Defendant’s trial - the admission of Defendant’s pretrial statement in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436. Specifically, the Court held that detectives violated Miranda by continuing to question Defendant after he invoked his right to remain silent, but the statements were not coerced. The Court then determined that this sole error was harmless. The Court modified the judgment of the trial court by reducing the $10,000 restitution fine to $6,000 and, as modified, affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "People v. Case" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of first degree murder, rape, and other crimes and sentencing Defendant to death. On appeal, the Court held (1) the trial court did not commit prejudicial error during jury selection; (2) no prejudicial error occurred during the guilt phase of trial; (3) none of the errors identified by the Court during the penalty phase of trial was prejudicial individually, and they did not have any cumulative effect; and (4) Defendant’s challenges to California’s death penalty law were unavailing. View "People v. Hardy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in its entirety the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of three counts of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, second degree robbery, and assault with a firearm and sentencing Defendant to death for the three murders. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) no prejudicial error occurred during jury selection; (2) during the guilt phase, the Confrontation Clause was violated through the admission of certain out-of-court statements, but the errors were not prejudicial; and (3) several errors were committed during the penalty phase, including the erroneous admission of certain statements and the erroneous admission of testimony by victim family members about the appropriate penalty, but the errors did not affect the penalty phase verdict. View "People v. Penunuri" on Justia Law

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The California Table Grape Commission’s advertisements and related messaging represent government speech, as opposed to private speech, and the Ketchum Act’s (Cal. Food & Agric. Code 65500) scheme providing that the Commission’s activities are funded by assessments on shipments of California table grapes does not violate Plaintiffs’ rights under Cal. Const. art. I, 2. Plaintiffs, five growers and shippers of California table grapes, brought suit arguing that the collection of assessments under the Act to subsidize promotional speech on behalf of California table grapes as a generic category violates their right to free speech under Cal. Const. art. I, 2(a). Plaintiffs claimed specifically that the table grapes they grow and ship are exceptional and that the assessment scheme requires them to sponsor a viewpoint that they disagree with. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs failed to advance a viable claim under article I, section 2. Specifically, the Court held that there was sufficient government responsibility for and control over the messaging at issue for the communications to represent government speech that Plaintiffs can be required to subsidize without implicating their article I, section 2 rights. View "Delano Farms Co. v. California Table Grape Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, the special circumstance of multiple murder, and various enhancements. The Court held (1) the prosecutor did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights to equal protection and a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community by peremptorily excusing five black prospective jurors at the guilt phase; (2) the trial court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment and his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment by denying his motion for a continuance; (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s convictions; (4) any error in the jury instructions related to eyewitness identification was harmless; (5) the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the penalty phase retrial jury on lingering doubt; (6) the trial court did not err in not offering supplemental instructions when it was clear that the jury’s verdict was not unanimous; (7) Defendant’s challenges to the penalty phase jury instructions were unavailing; and (8) Defendant’s remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "People v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The collection requirement of Proposition 69, known as the “DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act” (DNA Act), is constitutional as applied to an individual who, like Defendant, was validly arrested on “probable cause to hold for a serious offense” and who was required to swab his cheek as part of a “routine booking procedure” at county jail. Defendant was arrested for arson and related felonies and transported to jail. At booking, Defendant was informed that he was required to provide a DNA sample by swabbing the inside of his cheek. Defendant refused and was later convicted of both the arson-related felonies and the misdemeanor offense of refusing to provide a specimen required by the DNA Act. After the case was remanded, the Court of Appeal reversed Defendant’s misdemeanor refusal conviction on the ground that the DNA Act violates the state Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) it was reasonable under both the Fourth Amendment and Cal. Const. art. I, 13 to require Defendant to swab his cheek as part of a routine jail booking procedure following a valid arrest for felony arson; and (2) therefore, Defendant was subject to the statutory penalties prescribed in Cal. Penal Code 298.1. View "People v. Buza" on Justia Law

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The collection requirement of Proposition 69, known as the “DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act” (DNA Act), is constitutional as applied to an individual who, like Defendant, was validly arrested on “probable cause to hold for a serious offense” and who was required to swab his cheek as part of a “routine booking procedure” at county jail. Defendant was arrested for arson and related felonies and transported to jail. At booking, Defendant was informed that he was required to provide a DNA sample by swabbing the inside of his cheek. Defendant refused and was later convicted of both the arson-related felonies and the misdemeanor offense of refusing to provide a specimen required by the DNA Act. After the case was remanded, the Court of Appeal reversed Defendant’s misdemeanor refusal conviction on the ground that the DNA Act violates the state Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) it was reasonable under both the Fourth Amendment and Cal. Const. art. I, 13 to require Defendant to swab his cheek as part of a routine jail booking procedure following a valid arrest for felony arson; and (2) therefore, Defendant was subject to the statutory penalties prescribed in Cal. Penal Code 298.1. View "People v. Buza" on Justia Law

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Subject to the trial court’s discretion to permit late filing, a defendant must move to strike a cause of action under Cal. Code Civ. P. 425.16 - California’s anti-SLAPP statute - within sixty days of service of the earliest complaint that contains that cause of action. Within sixty days of the filing of a third amended complaint but not within sixty days of any earlier complaint, Defendants moved to strike that complaint under section 425.16. Specifically, Defendants sought to strike Plaintiffs’ claim alleged in the first and subsequent complaints that Defendants fraudulently settled an unlawful detainer action. The trial court denied the motion as untimely. The court of appeal affirmed, ruling that a defendant must file an anti-SLAPP motion within sixty days of service of the first complaint that pleads a cause of action coming within section 425.16(b)(1) unless the trial court in its discretion permits the motion to be filed at a later time. The court also concluded that Defendants’ motion was timely as to the new causes of action pleaded for the first time in the third amended complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeal property interpreted section 425.16(f). View "Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism" on Justia Law

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Subject to the trial court’s discretion to permit late filing, a defendant must move to strike a cause of action under Cal. Code Civ. P. 425.16 - California’s anti-SLAPP statute - within sixty days of service of the earliest complaint that contains that cause of action. Within sixty days of the filing of a third amended complaint but not within sixty days of any earlier complaint, Defendants moved to strike that complaint under section 425.16. Specifically, Defendants sought to strike Plaintiffs’ claim alleged in the first and subsequent complaints that Defendants fraudulently settled an unlawful detainer action. The trial court denied the motion as untimely. The court of appeal affirmed, ruling that a defendant must file an anti-SLAPP motion within sixty days of service of the first complaint that pleads a cause of action coming within section 425.16(b)(1) unless the trial court in its discretion permits the motion to be filed at a later time. The court also concluded that Defendants’ motion was timely as to the new causes of action pleaded for the first time in the third amended complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeal property interpreted section 425.16(f). View "Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism" on Justia Law