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News from the Director

Recent Victory Highlights
May 26, 2010

This month's highlights from our victory blog include the reversal of the denial of deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) in a juvenile delinquency case and the granting of habeas relief on the grounds that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance (IAC) at a Fourth Amendment suppression hearing.

DEJ Case:

In In re N.E., no. A126102, the Court of Appeal found that the record on appeal indicated that the juvenile court applied the wrong standard in assessing whether the minor was suitable for DEJ and therefore abused its discretion. The juvenile court's comments in denying DEJ were neither directed at, nor made in reference to, the key issue of whether defendant would or would not benefit from rehabilitation efforts such as to warrant DEJ. The juvenile court denied DEJ principally because the DEJ program, as administered by the local probation department, did not provide enough supervision. However, W & I section 794 permits the juvenile court to impose supervision it deems necessary for rehabilitation.. Our victory blog post on N.E., which includes a link to the opinion, is here.

IAC & Fourth Amendment Case :

In People v. Brooks/In re Brooks , nos. A124143 & A126334, a police offer with whom appellant had a prior history testfied at a Fourth Amendment suppression hearing in a new matter. After the trial court denied the suppression motion, appellant entered a no contest plea to one count of transporting a controlled substance. Along with his direct appeal, appellant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to cross-examine the officer at the suppression hearing regarding information appellant had given his attorney suggesting the officer may have been biased against him. The Court of Appeal reviewed declarations filed along with the habeas petition and concluded that the declarations were sufficient to at least raise an inference that the officer possessed a motive to lie about the events leading up to appellant’s arrest on the night in question. Further, the Court of Appeal concluded this possible motive to lie should have been explored by defense counsel during his cross-examination of the officer in this matter. Regarding prejudice, the Court of Appeal held that if the officer's testimony had been found untrustworthy by virtue of competent cross-examination, there would have been no evidence to support the detention which led to appellant’s arrest and the seizure of drugs from his person. Therefore, the Court of Appeal determined that but for defense counsel’s failure to impeach the officer with evidence of his possible bias against appellant, it is reasonably probable that appellant would have achieved a more favorable outcome in this matter. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment and remanded for a new suppression hearing. Our victory blog post on Brooks, which includes a link to the opinion, is here.

There are many victories posted on the victory blog, where you can peruse them all, or use the blog search engine to look for reversals in specific areas of law.

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