Chapter 5 - §5. Appellate review

JurisdictionUnited States

§5. Appellate review

§5.1. Standard of review. Review of a trial court's ruling to exclude evidence based on a Sixth Amendment violation is a two-step process. First, the appellate court must review the trial court's factual findings under the substantial-evidence standard. People v. Gonzales (2011) 52 Cal.4th 254, 284; People v. Moore (2011) 51 Cal.4th 386, 394-95; People v. Fairbank (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1223, 1247, 1249; People v. Bejasa (4th Dist.2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 26, 35; People v. Aguilar (6th Dist.1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 632, 637. This includes the trial court's resolution of disputed facts and inferences, including the determination of credibility. People v. Guerra (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1067, 1092-93, disapproved on other grounds, People v. Rundle (2008) 43 Cal.4th 76; People v. Ochoa (1998) 19 Cal.4th 353, 402. Next, the court's legal determinations are subject to a de novo review. Gonzales, 52 Cal.4th at 284; People v. Williams (2010) 49 Cal.4th 405, 425; People v. Waidla (2000) 22 Cal.4th 690, 730. Similarly, whether a defendant has knowingly and voluntarily waived his Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a mixed question of law and fact and is reviewed de novo. See U.S. v. Schaefer (9th Cir.2021) 13 F.4th 875, 886.

§5.2. Effect of error. A trial court's erroneous admission of evidence under the Sixth Amendment is subject to harmless-error analysis. See Satterwhite v. Texas (1988) 486 U.S. 249, 257-58; People v. Catelli (3d Dist.1991) 227 Cal. App.3d 1434, 1444-45; see also Arizona v. Fulminante (1991) 499 U.S. 279, 311-12 (upholding harmless error standard for violation of Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments). Under this standard, a California appellate court considering the issue on direct appeal must reverse the...

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