Tuesday, April 05, 2011

People v. Shockman (Cal. Ct. App. - April 5, 2011)

My education continues apace this morning:

(1)  I learned that a good place to score methamphetamine is in Old Town.  Approximately 4000 yards away from my office at the University of San Diego.  That's convenient.

(2)  I learned that trademarks aren't just relevant to legal enterprises.  Here, for example, the methampetamine dealer made the quality of his product known by ensuring that it was always wrapped not only in plastic, but then further wrapped in a black cocktail napkin.  Classy.

(3)  I learned not to conduct drug deals entirely by text messages.  Because sometimes, when the police bust someone for drugs, they send out a text message to all of the contacts in the arrested person's cell phone that says, simply, "Can you bring me some?"  And if one of those contacts is stupid enough to respond, they continue text messaging the person, set up a drug deal, and bust 'em.  So you should first do for a drug deal the same thing I imagine you should do when you meet a stranger you met on Craigslist for a casual encounter.  Voice verify.

(4)  I learned not to make your co-defendant angry with you.  Here, there are two defendants, and the prosecutor offers a "package" plea deal to them; i.e., they both have to accept, or no deal.  The defendant who was caught red-handed wants the deal, but the other defendant -- who has a quite reasonable defense -- doesn't.  So they go to trial.  The clearly guilty defendant doesn't even put on a defense:  here's his entire closing argument:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your patience and for your close attention to this case. It's seldom that I stand up in front of a jury, as seldom as never, and say 'What can I say?' I mean, you have the evidence. I hope you don't think that Mr. Peary and I wasted your time. You may wonder why we're here. But that's not relevant to your decision. And I'm going to say two words, and then I'm going to sit down. Two words that will not [a]ffect your decision but might have [a]ffected Mr. Peary's life. I want you to take that away from this experience. And that is 'adequate healthcare.' Thank you."

So he doesn't have much of a chance.  But what can he do?  Screw his co-defendant.  Because there's some incriminating evidence against his co-defendant -- evidence that the court has ruled that the prosecution is not allowed to introduce.  So what does the defendant do?  He moves to introduce that evidence against the co-defendant himself.  Evidence that wouldn't help him at all, but that will hose his colleague.  And the trial court allows this.  So does the Court of Appeal, albeit over Justice Aaron's dissent.

Oh, one more thing.  After he introduces the evidence against his co-defendant, and after he makes the non-closing statement, the prosecution offers him the same (now non-package) plea deal they offered before.  He takes it, leaving only his co-defendant to face the jury.  Congratulations.  You have your reward.

In short, there are lots of helpful things you can learn from the pages of the California Appellate Reporter.