Friday, June 06, 2008

People v. Carrasco (Cal. Ct. App. - June 6, 2008)

Two things.

First, doesn't it seem strange for someone to walk into a sheriff's station and ask if anyone has change for a dollar? Aren't stores and such a more likely candidate for this type of function? And isn't it even stranger to then follow up the resulting silence by singling out a particular deputy sheriff and asking "Do you have change, bitch?" Not really a smart thing to say. Nor is it wise to follow up with various additional curse words and thereafter resist arrest. Especially when you've got a nearly full gasoline container in the duffel bag that you brought with you to the station and a couple of gasoline-soaked rags. That's a good way to get convicted of arson (in addition to resisting arrest). And spending a healthy portion of the rest of your life in prison.

Second, for yet another thing you don't see very much, check out the following dialogue once the jury was polled (after finding the defendant guilty):

"The court then asked each juror whether the verdicts reflected his or her individual verdict. Juror No. 2 initially gave no response. The court asked again, Juror No. 2 paused and then answered, “Yes.” The remaining jurors left the courtroom, and the court engaged in the following colloquy with Juror No. 2:

“THE COURT: . . . [¶] Juror No. 2, you hesitated answering, and you teared up; and it appears that when you did give an answer, ‘yes,’ it was in a soft voice and you appear to be obviously emotionally distraught. [¶] Is the verdict that you rendered by saying yes to guilt as to counts 2, 3 and 4, is that your verdict? Is that your decision?

"JUROR NO. 2: No.

“THE COURT: All right. And it took Juror No. 2 some time to answer the question. [¶] Did you decide to vote the way you did because of the fact that you felt compelled because the other jurors were voting that way?

“JUROR NO. 2: Yes.

“THE COURT: Okay. So that is not your true intent to vote guilty for -- I’m not going to designate which count, but your guilty verdict was because you felt compelled or pressured because the other jurors were voting that way; is that correct?

“JUROR NO. 2: (No response.)

“THE COURT: Go ahead and explain to me that -- nobody will know about, the other jurors won’t know about our discussion here -- but I want to know what went on in the jury room that made you come up with a guilty verdict when you’re now indicating that that was not really your desire or intent.

“JUROR NO. 2: I had reasonable doubt.

Whoa. A conversation sufficiently rare that even the defense cousel, during this dialogue, said: "Your Honor, I have to confess I’ve never had this situation before," to which the trial court responded: "I don’t think any of us have."

Read the rest of the opinion for what subsequently transpires. With the following spoiler: the conviction is upheld (over the dissent of Justice Flier).