Termination letter sample
Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court of Amador County (California) that convicted him of first degree murder in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 187, first degree robbery in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 211, residential burglary in violation of Cal. Penal Code § 459, and the unlawful driving and taking of a vehicle in violation of Cal. Veh. Code § 10851 and sentenced him to death.
Defendant, a former co-worker, and defendant's girlfriend set up a campsite for the purpose of growing marijuana. An elderly couple occupied a cabin located near the site. After his girlfriend befriended the couple, defendant entered their cabin, shot both of them, and then fled the scene in their car. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, first degree robbery, residential burglary, and the unlawful driving and taking of a vehicle and was sentenced to death. He appealed, and the court affirmed. Appellant termination letter sample raised several errors in his appeal. One was the trial court's denial of his motion to dismiss the special circumstances allegations on the ground the state failed to preserve exculpatory evidence. A defendant claiming a due process violation based on the failure to preserve evidence had to show the exculpatory value of the evidence at issue was apparent before it was destroyed and that comparable evidence could not be obtained by other reasonable means. He also had to show bad faith on the part of police in failing to preserve potentially useful evidence. Defendant made no showing that the uncollected evidence would have been exculpatory.
Defendant's conviction for first degree murder, first degree robbery, residential burglary, and the unlawful driving and taking of a vehicle was affirmed.
Review to resolve a conflict in the courts of appeal was granted following a decision from the Superior Court of San Diego County (California), which reversed the trial court's judgment in favor of respondent client in his criminal malpractice action against appellants, public defender and County of San Diego.
Respondent pursued a criminal malpractice action against appellants, public defender and County of San Diego, following his habeas corpus award on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. The jury found in favor of respondent. While the appellate court reversed the trial court's judgment, it rejected the argument that actual innocence was a necessary element of criminal malpractice. The court granted review to resolve the conflict in the courts of appeal and to settle an important issue of state law. The court held that, in addition to the elements necessary to establish civil malpractice, proof of innocence was a required element in a criminal malpractice action. The court's determination was based on public policy, which prohibited the participant in an illegal act to profit from the act's commission. The court further distinguished criminal malpractice from civil malpractice, noting that individuals charged with crimes have the opportunity to redress violation of ineffective assistance of counsel through appeal and habeas corpus proceedings and that postconviction relief provided what competent representation should have afforded in the first instance.
The court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court, but remanded the matter back to the trial court with directions that, on retrial, respondent had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he was innocent of the underlying charges.