Friday, December 18, 2015

Despite Paul Gallegos' incompetence, the Attorney General's Office fixed this... (w/UPDATES & Bumped)

Timothy Littlefield cuffed and taken unto custody, no bail, whispers I love you to his father twice - John Chiv/Words Worth
...Citing the recent decision by the Apellate Court, the length of prison sentence he faces and "the substansial risk of absconding," Timothy Littlefield was ordered remanded into custody as requested by the Humboldt County District Attorney's office....

After the guilty verdict in the second trial, Littlefield faces upto 155 plus years to life unless a motion for a third trial is granted or additional evidence is provided by the defense regarding the second trial....
I'll give Russ Clanton credit for trying. A defense attorney's job is to try every trick in the book, and he did.

People request bench warrant for Timothy Littlefield, defense counsel tries unsuccessfully to change Judge Feeney's mind - John Chiv/Words Worth
Bennett vs Clanton, after three rounds of defensive and passionate advocacy by Mr. Russ Clanton, who represents Timothy Littlefield, Jr.; questioning and effort by Judge John Feeney to accomodate rescheduling; the People represented by Deputy District Attorney prevailed.
◼ UPDATE: Review of appellate hearing and custody status scheduled in Timothy Littlefield's case for tomorrow - John Chiv/Words Worth Dec 17, 2015

Note: Commenters express concern that Littlefield might skip town. Can't IMAGINE what would have given them THAT idea...


Apellate court reverses Littlefield mistrial decision by Judge Feeney - John Chiv/Words Worth

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant v. TIMOTHY FLOYD LITTLEFIELD, Defendant and Respondent. A141929 (Humboldt County Super. Ct. No. CR091204S)

In sum, we find juror M.L.’s statements regarding his mental processes during jury deliberations are irrelevant in assessing the validity of the verdict. As these statements were the only evidence defendant presented in support of his motion for a new trial, the trial court abused its discretion in granting the motion.

DISPOSITION

The trial court’s order granting defendant’s motion for a new trial is reversed. We remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Littlefield Mistrial Overturned, Guilty Verdicts Stand - Thaddeus Greenson/North Coast Journal
In the wake of Littlefield’s conviction — which saw jurors deliberate for just three hours before returning 11 guilty verdicts — his attorney, Russell Clanton, provided the court with a sworn declaration from a juror in the case saying he voted to convict Littlefield because the defense hadn’t proven him innocent. The juror later recanted that version of events in testimony before the court but, because the foundation of our criminal justice system is built on the tenet that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, Feeney declared a mistrial in the case.

In its ruling issued today, the appellate court said that evidence showing a juror’s mental state is inadmissible and irrelevant to the question of whether a verdict is proper. Consequently, the appellate court overruled Feeney’s mistrial declaration and remanded the case back to his court for further proceedings.

So what’s that all mean? Now back in the local court, the defense will have a chance to present Feeney with whatever other evidence of juror misconduct it might have. To win a mistrial declaration, the defense will essentially have to prove that the juror in question not only mistakenly believed the defense had the burden of proof but that he convinced other jurors of the same during deliberations, or at least attempted to. **

If the defense is unable to do that, then Littlefield will be back facing eight life sentences.
(** Note that the opinion EXPRESSLY addresses that very point, and states that that did not happen)
◼ Earlier: "We expect a prosecutor to know the law." comment about former DA Paul Gallegos (UPDATED)

Details...

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION ONE

A jury found defendant Timothy Floyd Littlefield guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years old or younger, one count of penetration with a foreign object, one count of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child, and seven counts of sex or sodomy with a child. Defendant moved for a new trial based on jury misconduct. In support, he presented a juror declaration suggesting the juror believed defendant had the burden of proof at trial. The juror recanted at an evidentiary hearing, testifying he had not personally written the declaration or read it carefully before signing. The trial court nevertheless granted defendant’s motion for a new trial. The Attorney General now appeals, arguing the juror’s declaration and testimony were irrelevant and inadmissible under Evidence Code1 section 1150. We agree and reverse.

...A jury found defendant Timothy Floyd Littlefield guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years old or younger, one count of penetration with a foreign object, one count of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child, and seven counts of sex or sodomy with a child. Defendant moved for a new trial based on jury misconduct. In support, he presented a juror declaration suggesting the juror believed defendant had the burden of proof at trial. The juror recanted at an evidentiary hearing, testifying he had not personally written the declaration or read it carefully before signing. The trial court nevertheless granted defendant’s motion for a new trial. The Attorney General now appeals, arguing the juror’s declaration and testimony were irrelevant and inadmissible under Evidence Code1 section 1150. We agree and reverse....

The jury found defendant guilty of all counts charged.2 Defendant subsequently moved for a new trial, arguing jury misconduct prevented fair and due consideration of the case. In connection with the motion, defendant submitted a declaration by juror M.L., dated March 2014. The declaration stated, in relevant part: “I told [defendant’s investigator] that I did not feel that the defense had ‘proven’ their case. I also said that the defense also did not have any evidence to back up their theory of what happened.”

Prior to the hearing, defendant filed a revised declaration by juror M.L., dated May 2, 2014, stating: “I told [defendant’s investigator] that I did not feel that the defense had ‘proven’ their case. In that, I meant that the defendant, Timothy Littlefield or his attorney did not prove all or part of their defense. It was my belief that they were obligated to do this in order to find Timothy Littlefield not guilty. I said that the defense also did not have any evidence to back up their theory of what happened.”

The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the matter on May 8, 2014. At the hearing, juror M.L. testified he believed the district attorney had the burden of proof at trial. When asked by defense counsel about the statements in his May declaration, M.L. responded: “But I misspoken [sic] there. And it’s the district attorney has the burden of proof, and I thought that you were rebuttal when things were brought up.” M.L. also indicated he had not drafted the declarations himself, and he had not read the May declaration in its entirety before signing it....

The Attorney General argues the trial court erred in granting defendant’s motion for a new trial because its ruling was based on evidence of juror M.L.’s mental processes, which are inadmissible under section 1150.3 The Attorney General also argues the trial court’s finding of juror misconduct was not supported by substantial evidence, since M.L. consistently testified at the evidentiary hearing that he understood the prosecution had the burden of proof. Defendant argues the evidence concerning M.L. was properly admitted and, in any event, the People waived the section 1150 issue by failing to object below. Defendant further argues M.L.’s declaration alone constitutes substantial evidence of juror misconduct. We agree with the Attorney General, as we find M.L.’s statements regarding his mental processes were of no consequence in assessing the validity of the verdict.

...there was no need for the trial court to resolve the inconsistencies in M.L.’s various statements, as they were all inadmissible and irrelevant to the issue presented. Section 1150 provides that evidence of a juror’s subjective mental processes, such as those described by M.L., are inadmissible for the purposes impeaching a verdict. Specifically, the statute states: “Upon an inquiry as to the validity of a verdict, any otherwise admissible evidence may be received as to statements made, or conduct, conditions, or events occurring, either within or without the jury room, of such a character as is likely to have influenced the verdict improperly. No evidence is admissible to show the effect of such statement, conduct, condition, or event upon a juror either in influencing him to assent to or dissent from the verdict or concerning the mental processes by which it was determined.” (§ 1150, subd. (a).) “Thus, jurors may testify to ‘overt acts’—that is, such statements, conduct, conditions, or events as are ‘open to sight, hearing, and the other senses and thus subject to corroboration’—but may not testify to ‘the subjective reasoning processes of the individual juror . . . .’ ” (In re Stankewitz (1985) 40 Cal.3d 391, 398 (Stankewitz).)

...Contrary to defendant’s contention, People v. Lewis (2001) 26 Cal.4th 334, does not hold otherwise. In that case, the court stated section 1150 “does not prohibit admitting a statement that reflects a juror’s reasoning processes if the statement itself amounts to juror misconduct.” (People v. Lewis, at p. 389.) But this merely means that a juror may commit misconduct where, for example, he or she makes an erroneous statement of the law to other jurors during deliberations. Stankewitz, the authority on which People v. Lewis relied, is illustrative....

In contrast, here, it appears juror M.L. did keep his opinion to himself. There is no indication M.L. discussed his thoughts on the parties’ burden of proof with other jurors, let alone that he held himself out as an expert on the matter....

13 comments:

  1. Well, someone should be embarrassed...

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  2. And what happens between now and whenever further hearings take place?

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  3. Timothy Littlefield goes on the run...

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    1. The man has had so many lucky breaks during this case. How is Feeney still a judge?

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  4. Why isn't he in jail while they decide all of this...? He was in jail before this jury misconduct thing came to light, I don't see why he is out now wandering free almost 7 years later.

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    1. Once Judge Feeney overturned the jury verdicts, Littlefield posted $500K in bail. Technically having not been convicted he is entitled to bail. Right now the most nervous person in Humboldt is probably not Littlefield, but his bail bondsman. The case has had appearances sporadically, and the DA could ask that his bail be now revoked. I think a Judge would be hard pressed to deny that request.

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    2. Would not surprise me to see that request come at the first calendar date once the case comes back down.

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    3. but doesn't the guilty verdict stand now given the appellate court decision?

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    4. Yes, 2:18, but the motion for a new trial is still pending. The appellate court is giving Littelfield a chance to come up with admissible evidence of juror misconduct, because the evidence upon which the judge based his ruling was inadmissible and should not have been considered. So he gets a shot at providing other evidence (assuming any such exists), which would be admissible, to support his motion. Of course, if there was any such evidence, you would think it would have been presented at the first hearing.

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    5. Thanks Doug Selby.

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  5. The case has to be sent back to the trial court for another hearing to see if there is admissible evidence to support the motion for a new trial (the technical term is remittitur). That takes a little bit of time, there will probably be a calendar date for setting the new hearing. Until the file gets back to the trial court, though, probably nothing much is going to actually occur (although 5:24 may prove to be a prophet). You can bet the new hearing is going to be hotly contested by the new DA.

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    1. I'm appalled by how long this has been going on. How can a man facing such heinous charges be walking free with a sentence so many years later?

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    2. That is the question.unbelievable

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Comments are open, but moderated, for the time-being. Good luck.