Pubdate: Mon, 25 Dec 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact:  Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: (213) 237-7679
Bookmark: (L.A. Rampart Scandal)


Excerpts From Ruling Of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline

Explanation Of Relevant Section Of Law:

Penal Code 1181 provides a number of grounds for consideration, the
relevant sections being as follows:

1181.3 Any misconduct by which a fair and due consideration of the
case has been prevented;

1181.5 Whether the court has misdirected the jury in a matter of law
or has erred in the discussion of any question of law arising during
the trial, or any prejudicial misconduct by the prosecution;

1181.6 and .7 The sufficiency of the evidence, whether the verdicts
are contrary to the law or the evidence.

Grounds For Overturning Verdict:

In this case, the alleged impropriety is the improper reliance by the
jury on an issue never proffered by the prosecution nor articulated as
a theory underlying the charges of conspiracy, false reports or perjury.

The failure to decide whether or not there was an accident is fatal to
the conviction of Mr. Buchanan under these counts alleging perjury.

Misconduct, whether simply inadvertent, misguided or deliberate, still
deprives defendants of their right to a fair trial.

Penal Code section 1181.5 permits the granting of a new trial when the
court has misdirected the jury in a matter of law, or has erred in the
decision of any question of law arising during the courts of the trial
or whether the prosecution has engaged in prejudicial misconduct.

Evidence available to the court suggests that in fact the jurors were
misdirected in the law, that the law was misapplied and that the
misapplication resulted in the denial of a fair trial on the merits.

Admissibility Of Affidavits:

The people correctly argue that statements made, conduct, condition or
events can be considered but evidence of the mental processes of the
jurors is strictly forbidden. However, this restriction does not,
contrary to the prosecution's argument, prohibit advocates from
"piercing the veil" of deliberations.

The key consideration in determining whether affidavits or other
evidence of juror misconduct are admissible relate to the
corroborative nature of the evidence, whether the statements or
evidence are open to corroboration by sight, hearing or the other senses.

Where there are objectively verifiable portions of the statements, it
is only logical that the court may consider them while disregarding
the inadmissible portions . . . the court is allowed to take the
declarations into consideration as a whole in order to determine
whether or not jury misconduct occurred.

The argument offered by the prosecution that they did not seek any
affidavits because this would be improper in some way is not
compelling. The state of the evidence therefore leaves the statements

The jurors did not agree that there was or was not an accident. Why
they reached this conclusion one way or another deals with
impermissible mental processes. The fact that they did not reach an
agreement is admissible.

Significance Of Great Bodily Injury:

The trial record consistently shows that this first scenario, that no
officer was hit, was the only theory pursued by the prosecution
throughout the trial.

The defense and the jury were presented with a single theory which the
prosecution now claims could have arisen from any number of different
acts. . . . It was not contemplated by any of the parties nor the
court that there was more than one act upon which the people were relying.

The court is aware, as is any neophyte to the criminal justice system,
that we have our own language that must be learned and learned well by
any practitioners. . . .

Certainly had the court been aware that the jury assumed there was
such a charge as great bodily injury, the rulings as well as the
instructions would have been different.

The court does not suggest that the people deliberately exploited the
misstatement or deliberately deceived the jury into believing that
there is such a crime as a "GBI charge" or "ADW with GBI." However,
the fact remains that the shorthand referrals that are accepted on a
daily basis in police stations, on police reports, in district
attorney offices and defense attorney offices were not corrected in
their presentation to an uninformed lay jury. The misconduct by the
jury in proceeding on the improper basis that there was such a crime
is not at all unreasonable in light of the circumstances presented to
them. . . .


The court does conclude that there was jury misconduct, though
unintentional, misguided and inadvertent, in the consideration of
improper facts.

While recognizing the enormous pressure on the community, on the
police force, on the district attorney's office and on the courts to
"fix" the Rampart scandal, this court is only interested in evaluating
the fairness of the proceedings in this court and determining whether
justice was done in this case. This court cannot and should not
consider the political ramifications of future lawsuits or future
prosecutions. The defense in this case has presented compelling
arguments to support their argument that the defendants did not
receive a fair trial.

The court cannot simply look the other way and ignore the
improprieties, innocent or not, intentional or unintentional, that
served to deny a fair trial in this case.

While the court cannot and will not presume to guess whether a
correction of the errors would result in any different verdict, it
most certainly concludes that the verdicts in this case cannot stand.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake