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The People v. Jordy Ezequiel Ochoa

January 4, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JORDY EZEQUIEL OCHOA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Barbara R. Johnson, Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BA349945)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Manella, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Affirmed.

In the underlying action, appellant Jordy Ezequiel Ochoa was charged with possession of a firearm as a felon (Pen. Code, § 12021, subd. (a)(1)).*fn1 Prior to his trial, he sought discovery under Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531 (Pitchess). After the jury in appellant's first trial was unable to reach a verdict on the charge, the trial court declined to revoke appellant's probation, and appellant was convicted of the charge after a second trial. Appellant contends that under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, the ruling on his probation barred the second trial; in addition, he requests this court independently review the in camera proceeding conducted pursuant to Pitchess, to determine whether the trial court improperly denied disclosure of discoverable information. We reject the contention regarding the application of collateral estoppel, and following a review of the in camera proceeding, find no error under Pitchess. We therefore affirm.

RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In October 2007, appellant suffered a felony conviction for resisting an executive officer (§ 69), and was placed on formal probation for 36 months (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BA326153). After appellant's arrest on December 4, 2008, he was charged with possession of a firearm as a felon. Prior to trial on the charge, appellant filed a Pitchess motion, seeking discoverable material regarding the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who participated in the arrest, including Officers Lazaro Ortega and Jeff Castillo. After an in camera hearing, the trial court permitted discovery of only some information.

At appellant's first trial, Officer Ortega testified that he and his partner, Officer Castillo, were driving in a patrol car when they saw appellant standing near a female. After the officers stopped the car and approached appellant on foot, appellant removed a black gun from his waistband and tossed it into the female's purse. Appellant then ran into a nearby apartment, where he was arrested. Ortega found a gun in the female's purse.*fn2 Appellant's witnesses -- who included his mother, his girlfriend, her mother and a neighbor -- testified that on the date of the arrest, appellant took his child to buy ice cream, and then returned with the child to his girlfriend's apartment. Later, police officers found a gun in a woman's purse outside the apartment, and arrested appellant.

On June 26, 2009, after the jury was unable to reach a verdict, the trial court declared a mistrial and, with the agreement of the parties, conducted a probation revocation hearing on the basis of the evidence presented at trial. Neither the prosecution nor appellant submitted additional evidence. Noting the absence of appellant's fingerprints and DNA on the gun, the court concluded that the prosecution failed to show a probation violation.*fn3

Appellant's second trial began on August 21, 2009. On August 26, 2009, following the presentation of evidence, the jury found appellant guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon.*fn4 The trial court ordered that appellant serve 365 days in county jail, awarded him a total of 393 days of custody credits, suspended the imposition of sentence, and placed appellant on three years of formal probation.

DISCUSSION

Appellant contends that the doctrine of collateral estoppel barred his second trial; in addition, he requests this court to independently review the in camera Pitchess hearing.

A. Collateral Estoppel

Appellant maintains that the trial court's ruling at the probation revocation hearing collaterally estopped his second trial.*fn5 As explained below, this contention fails under the public policy exception to the doctrine of collateral estoppel, as elaborated ...

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