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The People v. Myesha Marie Quarterman

January 24, 2012


TRIAL JUDGE: Honorable Robert Bowers TRIAL COURT: Solano County Superior Court (Solano County Super. Ct. No. VCR195892)

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


Defendant Myesha Marie Quarterman, on probation, pawned a camera and camera accessories, allegedly with knowledge that the items were stolen. She was charged with receiving stolen property and violation of her probation. A joint preliminary hearing and probation violation hearing was held, at which only a police officer testified to various hearsay statements, as permitted by Proposition 115. (Cal. Const., art. 1, § 30, subd. (b).)*fn1 The prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed the court would hear the evidence and rule separately on the two proceedings. The court held defendant to answer, but did not sustain the probation violation after hearing the evidence. Over defendant's due process and collateral estoppel objections, the district attorney subsequently re-alleged the same basis for a probation violation and successfully asked a different judge for a new probation hearing. At the second hearing, the camera owner and manager of the pawnshop testified. This time, the probation violation was sustained. The issue is straightforward: are the People permitted to initiate a second probation violation proceeding on the same ground after failing to sustain their burden of proof at a first, fully litigated, probation violation hearing? For the reasons explained below, we conclude collateral estoppel bars the second proceeding in this case.*fn2 Therefore, we reverse the court's order revoking probation.


Following defendant's entry of no contest pleas to various theft-related felonies,*fn3 on June 17, 2008, the court suspended imposition of sentence and placed defendant on probation for three years on the condition, among others, that she obey all laws.

On March 10, 2010, the District Attorney of Solano County filed a request for revocation of defendant's probation based on her arrest by the Vallejo Police Department, as documented in police report No. VPD-01552. Defendant was arrested after she pawned a stolen camera and camera equipment. Probation was summarily revoked, and a formal revocation hearing was set for the same time as the preliminary hearing in the underlying criminal action.

The joint preliminary/revocation hearing was held on March 30, 2010. Detective Joseph Iacono, with the special operations section of the Vallejo Police Department, was the sole witness.*fn4 On February 13, 2010, Detective Iacono spoke to victim Christopher Riley, who told him that an expensive camera and related camera equipment had been stolen from his car in Vallejo during the first part of February 2010. Riley put the loss at $6,000 or slightly more. He also said that a photographer friend had told him "that a person had essentially cold called him asking to sell some camera equipment."*fn5 Mr. Riley provided the police with the phone number of the person who called his friend.

Detective Iacono also spoke with Jason Reyes, the manager of Best Collateral Pawnshop in Vallejo. Mr. Reyes found Riley's camera and equipment in the pawnshop. Mr. Riley verified that the items were his. Mr. Reyes advised Iacono that the person who had pawned the camera and equipment had presented valid identification and provided a fingerprint. That person was defendant Myesha Quarterman.

Detective Iacono subsequently Mirandized*fn6 and interviewed defendant. She said that she obtained a bag full of cameras and related camera equipment from a black male adult whom she had known for nine months. She knew him by his street name. He asked her to pawn the items for $200. She suspected they might be stolen, so she asked the man several times if they were stolen. He assured her several times that the camera was not stolen.

According to Iacono, defendant said she thought the camera might be stolen because "everything that comes around her house is stolen, people are crankers." She also told Iacono that she thought the items were worth at least $1,000, and that she did think it was reasonable for her to think the items were stolen. Iacono did not ask her if she knew much about cameras or had ever purchased one. Iacono told defendant she should have known and considered that she had a history of receiving stolen property, and she responded that she knew that to be true. She admitted that she pawned the items at Best Collateral Pawnshop for $150.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court held defendant to answer on the charge of receiving stolen property. On the revocation, however, the court found there was no evidence from defendant's statement to show that the camera was in fact stolen, and there was nothing outside of the Proposition 115 testimony given by Detective Iacono to prove that fact. It ruled that since "there is a lack of evidence on the element of 'stolen property' " the court "does not find [defendant] in violation."

Subsequently, a different judge set the same probation matter to be heard with the jury trial in the criminal action. On June 7, 2010, defendant filed a written motion to dismiss the probation revocation proceedings, in which she objected to "the prosecutor's attempt to revoke her probation . . . by litigating the same issue previously litigated and adjudicated in her favor on March 30, 2010." Relying on Lucido v. Superior Court (1990) 51 Cal.3d 335 (Lucido), the court denied the motion. On June 10, 2010, the district attorney refiled a request for revocation of probation identical in all material respects to the one filed on March 10, 2010.*fn7

On June 10, 2010, at the prosecution's request and over defense objection, the court held a second revocation hearing.*fn8 Mr. Riley and Mr. Reyes testified, along with Detective Iacono. The court found defendant in violation of her probation. On August 31, ...

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