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The People v. Lamar Robinson

September 28, 2011


APPEAL from the judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Charles A. Chung, Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. MA046986)

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




Defendant Lamar Robinson was charged with battery on a correctional officer (Pen. Code, § 4501.5), and with two prior conviction enhancements (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)). The prosecution introduced evidence of defendant's prior conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, over defendant's objection (Pen. Code, § 12021, subd. (a)(1)). Defendant's first trial resulted in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. The second trial resulted in a guilty verdict, and defendant was sentenced to five years in prison. On appeal, he contends: (1) his prior conviction was inadmissible as a matter of law, as it was not a crime of moral turpitude; or alternatively, (2) even if the conviction was admissible, the trial court abused its discretion under Evidence Code section 352 by admitting it because it was minimally probative and highly prejudicial. We find no merit in defendant's arguments, and therefore affirm the judgment.


Defendant was incarcerated at the California State Prison in Lancaster. In the early afternoon on December 17, 2008, correctional officers were transferring defendant and 15 to 20 other inmates to a new housing facility at the prison. It had been snowing, and the ground was slippery, covered in ice and snow. During transfers, inmates are required to walk along a yellow line and place their belongings on the ground when told to do so. Defendant knew of this rule, having received the manual of prison rules and regulations. Defendant was disgruntled because he did not want to be transferred to the "Five Block" housing facility. He did not follow orders to stand in a single-file line with his hands behind his back.

Officers handcuffed defendant and placed him in a holding cell in the program office so that he would not incite other prisoners. Defendant remained in the holding cell while the other inmates were processed. The prison's policy is that an inmate in the holding cell is to be checked on every 15 minutes. Officers discovered defendant had urinated on the floor of the holding cell. When asked about the urine, defendant responded, "I pissed on your floor." Defendant mopped up his urine as directed. There was no toilet in the holding cell, but no one heard defendant complain that he needed to use the restroom.

As defendant was escorted out of the program office, he continued to complain about the transfer. He asked to be housed in the "hole" instead. He did not say why he did not want to be transferred. Officers Jeff Riley and Michael Madelon guarded defendant while they waited for another officer to transfer him to Five Block. Madelon's radio had a low battery and started chirping, so he left defendant and Riley alone while he went to get a replacement battery. Riley ordered defendant to face the wall with his hands behind his back. Defendant complied but continued to rant that there was "no way" he was going to switch buildings. Riley ordered defendant to pick up his belongings and walk the yellow line. Defendant responded, "F--- you bitch"; "You f------ pick it up, bitch," and began walking away from Riley.

Defendant then walked away from his belongings and did not comply with Riley's order to stop. Officer Riley radioed the observation tower to "put the yard down," signaling an alarm requiring inmates to sit on the ground. Defendant refused to get on the ground. He was the only inmate in the yard at the time. As Riley approached him, defendant struck him in the chest with his elbow. Defendant exclaimed that he was going to "kick [their] ass," referring to the correctional officers. He then clenched his fist as if he were going to strike Riley, so Riley tackled him to the ground. Defendant landed on his stomach and refused to put his hands behind his back. He tried to bite Riley's arm. Four officers were eventually able to handcuff defendant. He yelled that he was "gonna get paid."

The officers helped defendant to his feet. However, his body suddenly went limp, pulling the officers to the ground. The officers had difficulty getting a foothold because the ground was slippery. Defendant commented, "This s--- is fun. . . . I ain't walkin' nowhere." When officers pulled defendant up, he again went limp and pulled everyone to the ground. He said, "This s--- was fun," and "I'm gonna get paid." He had blood on his face. He refused to get up, and the officers carried him to the holding cell in the program office. He did not complain that he was hurt. There were no other inmates present at the time.

Prison nurse Jillian Bojorquez treated defendant. His only injury was an abrasion on his face. He made an excessive force complaint, which was determined to be unsubstantiated.

Defendant testified at trial. He did not want to be transferred because the Five Block had higher security. When officers instructed defendant to place his property on the ground, he put his duffle bag down. He did not put his legal paperwork on the ground, because it had snowed and he did not want his papers to get wet. His papers were not placed in his duffle bag because it had holes in it, and the papers would get wet.

Defendant testified that he was placed in the holding cell for over three hours. He was never checked on, even though he was yelling that he needed to use a ...

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