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The People v. Noe Sanchez-Esceverre

October 31, 2011


(Super. Ct. No. 09F7983)

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

P. v. Sanchez-Esceverre



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 Noe Sanchez-Esceverre entered a plea of no contest to transportation of methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379, subd. (a)) and admitted a prior drug-conviction allegation (Health & Saf. Code, § 11370.2, subd. (a)) in exchange for a stipulated six-year prison term. The court sentenced defendant accordingly.

Defendant appeals. He obtained a certificate of probable cause (Pen. Code, § 1237.5). Defendant's sole contention is that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his discriminatory-prosecution discovery motion. We reject defendant's contention and affirm the judgment.


On October 16, 2009, Sheriff's Deputy Pat Kropholler observed defendant driving nine miles over the posted speed limit northbound on Interstate Highway 5 (I-5), north of Redding. Defendant abruptly changed lanes without signaling and weaved back and forth in his lane. The officer also observed that defendant's car had a cracked windshield. The officer made a traffic stop. Defendant was nervous and his hands were shaking. He gave a false name. He had an international driver's license and claimed he left paperwork for his state license at home. The officer saw a single key in the ignition. When asked for the vehicle's registration and insurance, defendant had difficulty finding the paperwork but finally found a stack of papers which he handed to the officer. The name on the registration was Ricardo Azevedo and on the insurance papers was Chad Lutan. Defendant said the car did not belong to him and he did not know the owner's name. He subsequently said he could not pronounce the owner's name in either Spanish or English. Defendant grabbed an envelope out of the stack of papers which had Lutan's name, looked at the name, and then said the owner was Chad. A narcotics-sniffing dog alerted twice when it walked around the car and alerted again inside the car. A search of the car revealed packages covered with grease and black pepper, both used as masking agents. The packages contained 3.2 pounds of methamphetamine.


Defendant contends the trial court erroneously denied his discriminatory-prosecution discovery motion brought under Murgia v. Municipal Court (1975) 15 Cal.3d 286 (Murgia).*fn1 Defendant argues that the statistical evidence he submitted to the trial court constituted "some evidence" of discriminatory effect and intent. We reject his contention.


The officers who stopped defendant's vehicle were assigned to a Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) unit of Northstate Initiative California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team (NSI Cal-MMET (unit)). Defendant filed a motion for discovery of information "material to the defense of discriminatory prosecution in this case." Defendant claimed that "members of the Shasta County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) are acting in an impermissibly discriminatory manner in that they are enforcing the traffic laws of the State of California against certain minorities, largely Hispanics, while similarly situated Whites are not being singled out for prosecution and/or the same officers are initiating traffic stops of a suspect class of people without probable cause." Defendant sought discovery of numerous items, including copies of traffic citations, DVDs of traffic stops, investigative reports, information about the MMET/DHE program, training materials, policies and procedures for domestic highway operations, memoranda of understanding between law enforcement agencies, and assignments and job duties of law enforcement personnel.

In its response, the People stated that the unit is "specially trained to do highway interdiction" and that the officers monitor I-5, north of Redding, "stopping vehicles for traffic violations and looking for indicators of drug smuggling." In their declarations in support of the People's response, Officer Kropholler and Officer Christopher McQuillan, both assigned to NSI Cal-MMET, described their involvement with the unit, its inception and how it functioned. Based on a United States Justice Department 2009 Drug Market Analysis, attached to the People's response, "[I-5] is routinely exploited by drug traffickers to provide direct access to drug sources located in other areas of California as well as in Mexico and Canada" and in the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), in which Shasta County is included, the trafficking and abuse of methamphetamine, primarily ice methamphetamine, pose the most significant drug threats. The analysis also stated that Mexican drug trafficking ...

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