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The People v. James Lee Blake

November 3, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES LEE BLAKE, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 07F08163)

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

P. v. Blake

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 James Lee Blake was convicted of evading an officer in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property, evading an officer by driving against the flow of traffic, and resisting an officer. He contends on appeal that (1) the trial court denied him an impartial jury by declining to discharge a juror who expressed fear that defendant could possibly retaliate, (2) his conviction for evading an officer by driving against the flow of traffic must be reversed because it is necessarily included in his conviction for evading an officer in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property, and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to strike his prior strike convictions.

We conclude (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defense motion to discharge the juror, because the juror's assurance that he could be fair was substantial evidence supporting the trial court's determination that the juror was not actually biased against defendant; (2) evading an officer by driving against the flow of traffic is not necessarily included in the offense of evading an officer in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property, because under the statutory elements test it is possible to violate Vehicle Code section 2800.2*fn1 without violating section 2800.4; and (3) the trial court recognized and exercised its discretion in ruling on the motion to strike the prior strike convictions, and it did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion based on defendant's extensive criminal history.

We will affirm the judgment and direct the trial court to correct an omission in the abstract of judgment.

BACKGROUND

Officer Bob Barnes saw defendant driving a car that had been reported stolen. Barnes called for assistance. When backup arrived, Barnes activated his patrol car lights and "chirped" his siren to pull the car over. Defendant pulled over, but when a second officer ordered him to turn the car off, defendant revved the engine and drove away.

Officer Barnes pursued defendant with lights and siren engaged. Barnes pursued defendant for 33 minutes and over 52 miles. Defendant drove at speeds up to 110 miles per hour on Bond Road, Grant Line Road, Highway 99, Highway 50, Watt Avenue and Sierra Street (a residential neighborhood). During the pursuit defendant repeatedly drove in oncoming traffic lanes (once for over six miles), crossed multiple traffic lanes, ran red lights and stop signs, and forced other cars to take evasive action to avoid a collision. At one point he swerved over two traffic lanes to avoid a "tack strip."

Defendant ultimately drove across a sidewalk and crashed into a ditch. He attempted to flee on foot but he was apprehended by a police canine.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of evading a police officer in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property (§ 2800.2, subd. (a); count three), evading an officer by driving against the flow of traffic (§ 2800.4; count four), and resisting an officer (Pen. Code, § 148, subd. (a)(1); count five). He was acquitted on other counts. In bifurcated proceedings, the trial court denied defendant's Romero motion*fn2 to strike allegations of his prior strike convictions, found the prior strike allegations ...


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