Monday, November 21, 2016

People v. Ramos (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 21, 2016)

The first sentence of today's opinion begins:

"Rafael Ramos was charged with making criminal threats against Nancy Garcia, and elected to represent himself at trial."

Man. That never works out well.  Especially in a criminal threats case.

But the next sentences are even more surprising:

"Prior to opening statements, the trial court removed Ramos from the courtroom for disruptive conduct. No standby counsel was appointed to represent him in his absence. During Ramos’s period of exclusion, the prosecution presented its opening statement and conducted a direct examination of Garcia. Ramos was then permitted to return to the courtroom and participate in the remainder of trial. The jury found him guilty."

What?!  So the trial court booted the defendant, then let the trial go on with no one there for him -- including the direct examination of the victim -- and then let him back in only to cross-examine the main witness . . . having never heard her testimony on direct?!

You can read the subsequent 20 pages if you'd like.  But you should already know how it turns out.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial.

Hopefully one that isn't a farce.