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The People v. Keith Wayne Candler

January 10, 2013

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
KEITH WAYNE CANDLER, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 10F08164)

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

P. v. Candler

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

A jury found defendant Keith Wayne Candler*fn1 guilty of possessing marijuana inside prison . The trial court found that defendant had one prior strike and sentenced him to prison for seven years four months.

Defendant contends the trial court erred prejudicially by permitting the People's expert witness to testify on irrelevant matters outside his expertise. Finding the error harmless, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On May 20, 2010, Correctional Officer Brian Moltzen set out to search defendant's cell at California State Prison, Sacramento. Looking through the window in the cell door, Officer Moltzen saw defendant put something into his boxer shorts. After entering the cell and handcuffing defendant, Officer Moltzen determined that defendant had hidden a cell phone in a homemade pocket inside his shorts. Because having a cell phone violated prison regulations, Officer Moltzen removed defendant from his cell, intending to put him in a holding cell, perform an unclothed body search, and confiscate the cell phone.

After Correctional Officer Burke Scruggs photographed the cell phone on defendant's person, Officers Moltzen and Scruggs searched holding cell No. 3 (which measured about three feet wide, two and one-half feet deep, and seven feet high) and saw that it was empty.*fn2 The cell was in "kind of like a tunnel," but the sun was out, light was coming in from both sides, and Officer Moltzen could see everything "pretty clearly."

Officer Scruggs testified that there were several adjacent holding cells, which were often used to detain inmates temporarily; however, there were no inmates in the cells at that time. Officer Scruggs did not know how recently anyone had been in any of the cells.

The cells were placed several inches apart. Inmates could pass small items through the wire mesh cell walls, but the items would not make it to the next cell; they would drop to the floor between the cells. Although inmates in adjacent cells could theoretically pass an object from one cell to another by stretching out their arms and meeting in the middle, any attempt to do so would be "painfully obvious."

After Officers Moltzen and Scruggs placed defendant in holding cell No. 3, they closed and locked the door and uncuffed him. Officer Scruggs observed that defendant continued to face the back of the cell, which was unusual for an inmate whose handcuffs had been removed; his hands moved toward the center of his stomach. Defendant then turned around, while standing or leaning at the left rear portion of the cell. Looking down, the officers saw what looked like a cellophane-wrapped bindle next to defendant's left foot on the floor in the corner of the cell. Officer Moltzen ordered defendant to turn around, handcuffed him, and took him out of the cell. Officer Scruggs photographed and retrieved the bindle, which turned out to contain 1.36 grams of marijuana. It was the size of a ping-pong ball.

The prosecutor stated in limine that he would present testimony about "the possession of contraband in prison . . . why it is significant, why they recover contraband, why they search for it, the dangers involved with having contraband, drugs, deaths, et cetera in prison. [I]t is not unlikely, especially considering the makeup of the prison population, that there may be some reference to gangs and their activities. [ΒΆ] I wouldn't expect it would be significant and there isn't anything other than straightforward finding of the marijuana in the holding cell with the defendant in it that these officers would ...


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