Tuesday, March 13, 2007

People v. Myers (Cal. Ct. App. - March 13, 2007)

You don't usually see the party who lost on appeal requesting publication. But it happens.

And for good reason. The defendant's conviction gets affirmed, but only because the error here -- admitting evidence of the defendant's prior violent conduct -- was harmless. So the public defender requests that the opinion be published in order to create precedent (and avoid similar errors) in the future. Smart.

Justice Ikola articulates a very brief -- and somewhat persuasive -- explanation for why the error here was harmless, and says:

"But although an Evidence Code section 1103 objection would have been meritorious, counsel’s failure to object caused no prejudice. (Strickland, supra, 466 U.S. at pp. 687, 693-694 [prejudice requires a “reasonable probability” that competent performance would have led to a different result].) This was not a close case. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before convicting defendant. It credited the officer’s testimony. Defendant destroyed his own credibility with his far fetched claim that the white-residue-encrusted glass pipe was for smoking tobacco. Any reasonable juror would have concluded defendant fought with the officer to hide his meth pipe. Objecting to the evidence of defendant’s violent character would not reasonably have resulted in a more favorable determination to defendant. (Ibid.)"

Lesson of the day: Don't fight with the cops. Particularly just to hide your meth pipe. Otherwise you'll spend six years in the pokey. Which is much more than you'd have spent otherwise. Duh.