Jul. 21, 2022 – People v. Mateale (Supreme Ct., S138052)

In an automatic appeal from a death sentence, the Supreme Court holds the trial court erred in the penalty phase by excluding eyewitness testimony, offered as lingering doubt evidence, indicating the shooter’s physical appearance was distinct from the defendant’s. However, the court finds the error was harmless. Justice Groban observes in concurrence that a habeas proceeding “would be the appropriate forum to explore” whether trial counsel provided IAC by failing to secure the eyewitness’s presence for the guilt phase. Justices Liu and Kruger dissent, finding the penalty-phase error was prejudicial.