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The People v. Anthony James Gibbs


February 10, 2011


(Super. Ct. No. 07F08272)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mauro ,j.

P. v. Gibbs CA3


California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant Anthony James Gibbs challenges his convictions for robbery and resisting a peace officer. His sole contention on appeal is that the trial court erred in denying his posttrial motion for access to personal juror identifying information. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 206, 237.) We conclude the court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion, and affirm the judgment.


The Crimes and the Verdicts

Standing outside his girlfriend's house at night, the robbery victim saw a car drive slowly by and then circle back to where he was standing. A man (later identified by the victim as defendant) got out of the backseat of the car, ran toward the victim with a gun, and took the victim's MP3 player, wallet, car keys and cell phone. Defendant got back into the car and it drove away.

Minutes later, the car's driver failed to respond to an attempted traffic stop. Officers chased the three men who fled the car on foot; two (including defendant) ignored officers' commands to stop. They found defendant hiding under a light rail car.

The robbery victim's wallet and car keys were recovered from the car. In a field lineup conducted within an hour of the robbery, the victim identified defendant as the robber.

Defendant and his co-defendant Jerome McCoy were charged with second degree robbery (Pen. Code, § 211) and with receiving a stolen vehicle (Pen. Code, § 496d, subd. (a)). Defendant was also charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest (Pen. Code, § 148, subd. (a)(1)); McCoy was charged with being an accessory to defendant's robbery.*fn2

At trial, the prosecution introduced evidence that defendant's fingerprints were on the toy gun recovered from the car in which he had been riding.

Defendant testified and denied participating in the robbery. According to defendant, he accepted a ride in the car from McCoy and two other people about 10 minutes before officers tried to make the traffic stop. McCoy told defendant he (McCoy) had "just robbed somebody," and defendant said he later ran from police because he was afraid: "I didn't have nothing to do with it, and I know if I stayed in the car somehow they would try to put me into having something to do with it." Defendant explained his fingerprints were on the toy gun because he had been playing with it earlier that day. On cross-examination, defendant admitted he had previously been convicted of lying to police for giving them a false name.

After deliberating less than a full day, the jury announced it had reached a verdict. The verdict forms showed that the jury found defendant guilty of robbery and resisting a peace officer, and not guilty of receiving stolen property. But when the jury was polled, Juror No. 2 asked to discuss the verdicts in private. After the other jurors were excused, Juror No. 2 said she had not believed there was enough evidence to find defendant guilty on the "first count" [robbery] but had changed her vote from not guilty to guilty on that count because she feared the other jurors might be angry with her. Juror No. 2 also said she had a "feeling" the otherwise all-White jury may have discriminated against the defendant, an African-American. She admitted listening to the other jurors' arguments, but she felt they were "pushing" her, and she admitted she did not participate in the discussion or voice her concerns about the strength of the evidence after the first vote.

The court gave the jury fresh verdict forms and directed it to continue deliberations. It also reinstructed the jury with CALCRIM No. 200 on the duties of the judge and jury, and with CALCRIM No. 3550 on the deliberation process, and the jurors' duty "to talk with one another and to deliberate in the jury room" and to decide the case "only after . . . discuss[ing] the evidence with the other jurors." CALCRIM No. 3550 also directs jurors not to "change your mind just because other jurors disagree with you."

Following an additional 39 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned with the same verdicts as before. When polled, each juror stated that he or she agreed with the verdicts.

The Petition for Personal Jury Information

Defendant filed a motion requesting jurors' addresses and telephone numbers. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 206, 237.)

In support of the motion, defense counsel submitted a declaration in which he described Juror No. 2's statements following the first verdicts and averred he "believe[d]" the jury committed misconduct by failing to follow the judge's direction to deliberate thereafter, in light of the short period of deliberation that followed and the strength of Juror No. 2's "seemingly strong conviction that there was not enough evidence to convict [defendant] as to [the robbery count]." Counsel argued "further investigation to either substantiate or dispel these allegations" is required.

The prosecutor opposed the motion, arguing it failed to establish a prima facie showing of good cause.

Following a hearing, the trial court denied defendant's motion. In so doing, the court opined that a posttrial challenge to a jury verdict "must be based on an overt act suggesting misconduct" such as evidence that a juror "1. Conceal[ed] bias on voir dire; [¶] 2. Consciously receive[d] outside information; [¶] 3. Discusse[d] the case with nonjurors; [or] [¶] 4. Share[d] improper information with other jurors." The court concluded defendant's motion failed to show good cause for disclosure of juror information because it failed to "suggest[] an overt act of juror misconduct that is open to corroboration by sight, by hearing, or by the other senses[,]" or to "allege the commission of any overt act or misconduct involving anything akin to [Juror No. 2's] referencing outside materials on her own, using outside materials during the deliberation process, discussing issues with nonjurors, or receiving and considering information outside of the evidentiary record."


A defendant may petition the trial court for access to the personal identifying information of jurors. Code of Civil Procedure sections 206 and 237 govern the release of that information.*fn3 (See Townsel v. Superior Court (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1084, 1087.) Section 206, subdivision (g) provides that a defendant may petition the court for personal juror identifying information for, inter alia, the purpose of developing a motion for new trial.*fn4 (See also People v. Carrasco (2008) 163 Cal.App.4th 978, 990 (Carrasco).) Section 237, subdivision (b) requires that a petition for juror identifying information be supported by a declaration that includes facts sufficient to establish good cause.*fn5 (See also People v. Jefflo (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 1314, 1319-1322 & fn. 8; Carrasco, supra, 163 Cal.App.4th at p. 990.)

The substantive test for determining good cause was set forth by this court in People v. Rhodes (1989) 212 Cal.App.3d 541, 552 (Rhodes). (See also Carrasco, supra, 163 Cal.App.4th at p. 990 ["the Rhodes test survived the (subsequent statutory) amendments"].) Rhodes held that a defendant can establish good cause if he "sets forth a sufficient showing to support a reasonable belief that jury misconduct occurred, that diligent efforts were made to contact the jurors through other means, and that further investigation is necessary to provide the court with adequate information to rule on a motion for new trial." (212 Cal.App.3d at pp. 551-552.) Speculation about how the jury arrived at their verdict is insufficient. (People v. Wilson (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 839, 852.)

We review a trial court's denial of a petition for access to personal juror identification information under an abuse of discretion standard. (Carrasco, supra, 163 Cal.App.4th at p. 991.) A proper judgment or decision of a trial court will be affirmed regardless of the correctness of the grounds upon which the court reached its conclusion. (Davey v. Southern Pacific Co. (1897) 116 Cal. 325, 329.)

Defendant contends the trial court erred in concluding his motion failed to show good cause for the release of juror information. We disagree.

First, we note defendant failed to make the predicate showing that he had "made 'diligent efforts . . . to contact the jurors through other means' [citation]." (People v. Jones (1998) 17 Cal.4th 279, 317; Rhodes, supra, 212 Cal.App.3d at p. 552.)

Further, defendant failed to establish a prima facie showing of good cause for disclosure of juror information, because his counsel's declaration failed to establish any juror misconduct. Defense counsel "believe[d] that the jury failed to deliberate" after Juror No. 2's disclosures; "believe[d] that thirty minutes was insufficient to deliberate the issue of guilt/innocence" and "believe[d] that [Juror No. 2] succumbed to peer pressure during the course of deliberations in reaching her verdict, and failed to deliberate." Taken together, these assertions constitute an argument that the jury cannot have deliberated because its members reached a verdict the second time in less than 40 minutes.

There is no direct evidence jurors failed or refused to deliberate. Indeed, they were expressly instructed by the trial court "to talk with one another and to deliberate in the jury room" and to decide the case "only after . . . discuss[ing] the evidence with the other jurors." We generally presume jurors did as they were instructed: it is "axiomatic that the jury is presumed to have followed the instructions and obeyed the law." (People v. Ryan (1981) 116 Cal.App.3d 168, 179; People v. Smith (2007) 40 Cal.4th 483, 517 [the "'crucial assumption underlying our constitutional system of trial by jury is that jurors generally understand and faithfully follow instructions'"].)

Nor has defendant established the jurors committed misconduct simply because they did not deliberate as long as he believes they should have. Numerous courts have rejected claims a jury did not adequately deliberate, based on the length of deliberations. For example, in People v. Weaver (2001) 26 Cal.4th 876, 973-974, the court upheld a sanity phase verdict that the jury returned just 42 minutes after a trial with 16 days of testimony, opining that "'[i]t appears much more likely . . . the relatively short duration of the jury's deliberations simply reflected the strength of the prosecution's case.'" (See ibid. and cases cited therein; see also People v. Williams (1997) 16 Cal.4th 153, 229 ["Defendant's mere speculation that his jury cut short its [guilt] deliberations out of prejudice [based solely on the fact that they deliberated for less than two hours] does not establish 'good cause'" to reopen voir dire prior to the penalty phase].)

Defendant's belief that the jurors did not deliberate adequately is at best speculative. The relative brevity of deliberations can instead be reconciled with the task confronting the jury. Juror No. 2 indicated after the first verdicts that she had remained unconvinced of defendant's guilt as to only one of three charges and had voted to convict on the robbery charge without articulating her concerns to other jurors. The court did not abuse its discretion in impliedly concluding that Juror No. 2 could have articulated her concerns as to a single charge, discussed them with her fellow jurors, and resolved them to her satisfaction within 39 minutes.

Neither of the cases cited by defendant support his assertion that the "brevity of the deliberations after the jury was sent back for further deliberations is also strongly suggestive of juror misconduct." The first, Rhodes, supra, 212 Cal.App.3d 541, does not hold that juror misconduct can be shown by the length of deliberations. It merely references what is "implie[d]" by "[d]ictum" in People v. Atkins (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 15 (disapproved on another ground in People v. Jones (1990) 51 Cal.3d 294, 308), and then notes an "inference" referenced in that dictum. (Rhodes, supra, 212 Cal.App.3d at p. 552.) But the dictum in Atkins also stated that the brevity of deliberations, by itself, does not demonstrate jury misconduct. (Atkins, supra, 203 Cal.App.3d at p. 25.)

Nor does People v. Johnson (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1183 support defendant's position that the trial court here should have inferred misconduct from the length of the jury's second deliberation period. At issue in Johnson (among other things) was whether the trial court erred in requiring the jury to continue deliberating, rather than declaring a mistrial after the jury declared itself at an impasse. (Id. at pp. 1252, 1254.) Answering this question "no," the court in Johnson opined that "[t]he jury's continued deliberations [for a day and a half after it announced the deadlock] indicate that the penalty determination was the product of its own reasoning processes, not judicial coercion." (Id. at pp. 1254-1255.) The case does not consider whether the jurors committed misconduct by deliberating too little and does not serve as authority for that proposition. (People v. Toro (1989) 47 Cal.3d 966, 978, fn. 7, disapproved on another ground in People v. Guiuan (1998) 18 Cal.4th 558, 568, fn. 3; Hart v. Burnett (1860) 15 Cal. 530, 598 [cases are not authority for propositions they do not consider].)

Defendant's motion seeking disclosure of juror information failed to make the necessary showing. Under the circumstances, the court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion.


The judgment is affirmed.

We concur:

BLEASE , Acting P.J.


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