Friday, November 15, 2013

People v. Durham case brief

People v. Durham case brief summary
449 P.2d 198 (1969)

Defendants, a shooter and an accomplice, appealed a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which sentenced defendant accomplice to life imprisonment and defendant shooter to death based on a jury's verdict finding defendants guilty of murder in the first degree. Defendant accomplice's motion for new trial was denied.

Defendants, a shooter and an accomplice, were pulled over for a traffic stop by city police. Defendant shooter shot and killed a police officer during the stop. At trial, evidence of defendants' pre-shooting crime spree was admitted. Defendants were convicted of murder in the first degree. Defendant accomplice was sentenced to life imprisonment. Defendant shooter was sentenced to death.

  • On appeal, the court affirmed, ruling that sufficient evidence supported both convictions and sentences. 
  • As to defendant accomplice, the court ruled that respondent state properly utilized conspiracy principles, but was not required to prove a conspiracy to convict on its sole theory of aiding and abetting.
  • As to defendant shooter, the court ruled that the probative value of his parole status and criminal activities outweighed any prejudicial effect. 
  • The court ruled that he received effective assistance of counsel and presented no evidence to the contrary. 
  • The court ruled that the probative value of his sodomy conviction in the penalty phase outweighed its prejudicial effects, that jury instructions were proper, and that certain jurors were properly excluded for cause.

The court affirmed the judgments convicting defendants. The court dismissed the attempted appeal of the denial of a motion for new trial as nonappealable.

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