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View Full Version : California Appeals Court Rules: Prosecutors Must Produce Witness Testimony


Mstrty
03-31-2011, 3:52 PM
Chalk one up for us!!!
The California Court of Appeals has ruled that handgun registration information cannot be admitted into evidence at trial without accompanying witness testimony and an opportunity for a defense attorney to cross-examine that witness. People v. Sanchez (2011 DJ DAR 4269; DJ, 3/24/11; C/A 6th). This is good news for firearm owners.

Here is the full story (http://www.calgunlaws.com/index.php/current-litigation/52-court-decisions/953-california-appeals-court-rules-prosecutors-must-produce-witness-testimony-to-prove-firearm-registration.html)

dfletcher
03-31-2011, 4:02 PM
The short version is, instead of a letter saying "we found nothing" a DOJ person must show up and say "we found nothing" and be open to "well, could you have made a mistake, have you ever made a mistake, etc?" cross examination.

I found this interesting:

"The offenses where this rule applies include carrying an unregistered loaded handgun (Penal Code section 12031(a)(1)/(2)(F)); possession of an unregistered concealed handgun (12025(a)(1)/(b)(6)); importation, sales, and/or possession of an "assault weapon" or ".50 BMG rifle" (12280(a), (b) and (c)); possession of a "destructive device" (12303); possession of one of the dangerous weapons listed in Penal Code section 12020(a)(1); importation and/or sales of large capacity magazines (12020(a)(2)); and possession of a "machinegun" (12220). There are other situations where the testimonial rule would apply as well."

If folks, for example, start producing documentation not contained in DOJ records and the integrity of the system compromised - what might be the result?

dantodd
03-31-2011, 4:09 PM
If folks, for example, start producing documentation not contained in DOJ records and the integrity of the system compromised - what might be the result?

THIS!!!

There are known errors and omissions in the database. These will have to be acknowledged in open court. Can a jury (or judge) reasonably convict someone when the doj testifies that their database is known to be faulty?

Andy Taylor
03-31-2011, 4:11 PM
Ok I do not have a "legal" mind. I just read the article.
Does this mean that if you are carrying a handgun concealed and loaded, they have to have a witness to the fact that you didn't registar it? Also it talks about RAWs. The same question applies. You don't have paperwork. The gun is old enough that it may or may not be a RAW. They don't find the info in their database. You state that you did registar it. They need a witness to the fact that you didn't? How could they do that? No one, not even a spouse, is with someone 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Sounds like a major win. I hope it is as big as It sounds.

bwiese
03-31-2011, 4:13 PM
This is good.

At the very least, for AW stuff it may help turn things into AB2728 reductions.

stix213
03-31-2011, 4:15 PM
What do you mean you can't find my RAW registration? :p

Andy Taylor
03-31-2011, 4:19 PM
I have been the "victim" of such an error. A revolver I sold legally through a PPT turned up a couple of years latter used in a drive by shooting. I was contacted by a Sheriff's detective who found that DOJ still had the gun in my name. I knew I had sold it through a particular FFL. After a couple of days of going trough their books the FFL found it. They had transposed a digit on the S/N. The detective went on to the next owner and I never heard any more about it.

Nick Justice
03-31-2011, 4:21 PM
Make sure Alan Gura gets this. It may help if applied to the CCW cases where the defendants offer declarations from "experts" as evidence in motions for summary judgment. Probably too late for the San Diego case, but maybe not too late for the Yolo County one...
BUT WAIT...this is a CA state evidence ruling. It is not a federal evidence ruling. The two CCW cases mentioned are federal cases. Hmmm... Could still help as persuasive precedent.

Mstrty
03-31-2011, 4:24 PM
You want to see the registration for my 50BMG? Look it up....:p

And tell your boss I will see him in court.:D

IGOTDIRT4U
03-31-2011, 4:27 PM
Interesting. Good for the AW crowd at least.

stix213
03-31-2011, 4:30 PM
So how would this help us really when it comes down to it? Guy gets popped for an AW violation for a firearm that could plausibly have been owned within an open registration window, at trial they point to either features or receiver listing as evidence it falls within AW definition per CA law, then instead of just a piece of paper saying it also isn't registered there would be a person sitting there saying it too right?

And then the defense gets to say something to the effect of, "Is it impossible that the state just lost the registration information???? Here is X, Y, Z instances we already know about when you did exactly that, so how can you be certain that my client didn't actually submit the proper paperwork and you guys just screwed up?" Guy sitting on stand says, "Well its unlikely but I can't say impossible. Yes it has happened before" Then you have possible reasonable doubt right?

edit: not suggesting to go out and get illegal AW's

GOEX FFF
03-31-2011, 5:16 PM
In the words of Arte Johnson "Veeeeeedy Interesting"

I wonder how this could help this man's case involving self-defence and an AW in this recent thread -

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=415300

dfletcher
03-31-2011, 5:56 PM
I think a good gauge of whether this ruling will have no practical effect or much would be the reaction of workers in DOJ - not the folks in charge but those who actually make the system run. If it's "oh this is not good" I'd take that as a benefit, if "ah, no big deal - we're fine" probably nothing to come of it?

Shiboleth
03-31-2011, 6:21 PM
Anything that helps to prevent prosecutors from shirking their burden of proof makes me happy.

N6ATF
03-31-2011, 7:37 PM
Too bad there's no burden of proof that said "crimes" actually ever caused someone to be harmed. Which mere possession does not.

Shiboleth
03-31-2011, 8:02 PM
Too bad there's no burden of proof that said "crimes" actually ever caused someone to be harmed. Which mere possession does not.

Yeah, legislators should have to meet some burden of proof to pass restrictive laws in the first place.

JRob
04-01-2011, 1:04 AM
Now the prosecutor has to spend $$ to bring in a state employee, who will be guaranteed to torpedo the felony aspect of his case? Sounds like fewer prosecutions, and stronger bargaining position for gun owners

Quser.619
04-01-2011, 9:31 AM
Would this ruling be of any use to those repealing or possible fighting AW charges? Or might we see local prosecutors change the charges to Federally based laws?

joefreas
04-01-2011, 9:44 AM
I like what I am hearing :jump:

dantodd
04-01-2011, 2:34 PM
Would this ruling be of any use to those repealing or possible fighting AW charges? Or might we see local prosecutors change the charges to Federally based laws?

There are no federal laws prohibiting the possession of "California Assault Weapons" and there is no federal law requiring handgun registration so I don't see what federal charges would be filed. Plus, it is a different person who prosecutes federal crimes.

And yes, it will definitely help those currently fighting AW charges. They can now force the state to prove that a weapon wasn't properly registered.

It will be fun to see the first time the "expert" witness declares that, even though the database isn't reliable the defendant (assuming he's an otherwise upstanding citizen) couldn't have registered his Assault Weapon because, the state doesn't issue to "people like him."

tyrist
04-01-2011, 3:11 PM
Ultimately this is likely to make having the database too expensive and cost prohibitive. Could end up being the functional end of California AW database.

dantodd
04-01-2011, 3:16 PM
Ultimately this is likely to make having the database too expensive and cost prohibitive. Could end up being the functional end of California AW database.

It hadn't occurred to me that the legislature might actually end the AWB at AG Harris' request. That would be RICH! If enough cases are kicked because the current database isn't reliable and there are too many ARs etc. in CA to re-do (AND MAINTAIN) the list accurately we might just be there.

IrishPirate
04-01-2011, 3:23 PM
Yeah, legislators should have to meet some burden of proof to pass restrictive laws in the first place.

they will after Nordyke

Ultimately this is likely to make having the database too expensive and cost prohibitive. Could end up being the functional end of California AW database.

:party:

tyrist
04-01-2011, 3:34 PM
It hadn't occurred to me that the legislature might actually end the AWB at AG Harris' request. That would be RICH! If enough cases are kicked because the current database isn't reliable and there are too many ARs etc. in CA to re-do (AND MAINTAIN) the list accurately we might just be there.

I would assume they would keep the ban they just wouldn't have a database. Would end up being more on the order of the Federal AWB.

dilligaffrn
04-01-2011, 6:44 PM
Tag!!!

Shiboleth
04-01-2011, 7:21 PM
they will after Nordyke

Not really. Even if strict scrutiny is applied, the legislature is free to pass all the infringing laws it wants. Scrutiny and precedent will simply give us the means to shoot them down after the fact.

cdtx2001
04-01-2011, 7:48 PM
Anything that helps to prevent prosecutors from shirking their burden of proof makes me happy.

This^^^^^

They NEED to HAVE the proof in court, not just well we think this is what it is crap.

tyrist
04-01-2011, 8:02 PM
This^^^^^

They NEED to HAVE the proof in court, not just well we think this is what it is crap.

The print outs are submitted into evidence. All that changes is a DOJ agent would need to show up at the trial and make statements on the authenticity.

Shiboleth
04-01-2011, 8:26 PM
The print outs are submitted into evidence. All that changes is a DOJ agent would need to show up at the trial and make statements on the authenticity.

On its face yes. However, defense counsel cannot cross examine the printout. The real issue here is not whether what is stated on the printout is entered into evidence via a printout or person, but whether the defense can get sworn testimony before a jury as to the glaring inadequacies of the databse. Enter reasonable doubt.