Chapter 5 - §5. Appellate review

JurisdictionUnited States

§5. Appellate review

§5.1. Factual findings. The trial court's factual findings about the sequence of events, the conduct of the police officers, and the circumstances surrounding the making of the defendant's statement are reviewed under the deferential substantial-evidence standard, if those facts or circumstances were disputed and resolved by the trial court. See People v. Sanchez (2019) 7 Cal.5th 14, 48; People v. Duff (2014) 58 Cal.4th 527, 551; People v. Tully (2012) 54 Cal.4th 952, 993; People v. Benson (1990) 52 Cal.3d 754, 779. Any facts that were not in dispute or resolved by the trial court, however, are subject to an independent or de novo review. Duff, 58 Cal.4th at 551; Tully, 54 Cal.4th at 993; People v. McWhorter (2009) 47 Cal.4th 318, 346.

§5.2. Conclusions of law. The trial court's conclusions of law about whether the police conduct was coercive, whether it constituted a threat or promise, whether it induced the defendant to make his statement, and ultimately whether the defendant's statement was voluntary are reviewed de novo. See People v. Duff (2014) 58 Cal.4th 527, 551; People v. Guerra (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1067, 1093, disapproved on other grounds, People v. Rundle (2008) 43 Cal.4th 76; People v. Benson (1990) 52 Cal.3d 754, 779.

§5.3. Effect of error. If the trial court erred by admitting a defendant's involuntary statement into evidence, California and federal courts apply the harmless-error standard. People v. Neal (2003) 31 Cal.4th 63, 86; see Arizona v. Fulminante (1991) 499 U.S. 279, 310; People v. Maury (2003) 30 Cal.4th 342, 412 (dicta); People v. Meza (1st Dist.2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 604, 612; People v. Perdomo (2d Dist.2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 605, 619 (dicta). Under this standard, a California court considering the issue on direct appeal must reverse the judgment of conviction unless it is convinced, based on the entire record, that the erroneous admission of the defendant's involuntary statement was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. See Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, 24; Neal, 31 Cal.4th at 86. The burden of proving that the error was harmless falls on the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT