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The People v. Timothy Griffin

May 13, 2013

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
TIMOTHY GRIFFIN, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 08F08267)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

During bifurcated guilt and sanity proceedings before the trial court, defendant Timothy Griffin pleaded guilty to all charges--four counts of robbery, seven counts of assault with a firearm, and two counts of carjacking--received a sentencing lid of 23 years four months, and waived his right to a jury trial on the issue of sanity. After the sanity phase, the court found defendant failed to meet his burden of proof to show he was insane at the time of the offenses.

Defendant appeals his conviction, alleging (1) his jury waiver for the sanity trial was procured involuntarily due to judicial involvement, (2) this judicial involvement constitutes judicial plea bargaining that renders the sanity jury waiver invalid, and (3) there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding that defendant failed to meet his sanity burden of proof. We find the trial court did not engage in judicial plea bargaining, and the trial court's sanity finding was supported by sufficient evidence. Therefore, we shall affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 4, 2008, defendant, with a getaway bicycle waiting outside, armed with a loaded semiautomatic handgun and wearing a hoodie and a mask, went into a Wells Fargo Bank. Holding his gun, defendant jumped over the counter and said, " 'Now, everyone is going to cooperate with me, right?' " Defendant took money from each cash drawer. A bank customer, who had retrieved his own gun from his car, pointed the gun at defendant, demanding that defendant drop his gun. Defendant ducked below the counter, stood back up pointing his gun at the armed customer, and fled out the back door of the bank, leaving his escape bicycle behind.

With cash in hand, defendant ran into an open garage to hide. When the owners of the house emerged, defendant stole their car at gunpoint and fled. Defendant abandoned the stolen vehicle and disposed of all clothing connecting him to the scene of the crime. Defendant went to his truck, where he left the gun and submerged the stolen money underwater in a cooler, thinking there might be a paint bomb in the money for detection purposes.*fn1 Defendant then returned in his truck to the hotel where he was staying with his girlfriend and went to the swimming pool.

Police officers located defendant's truck in the hotel parking lot after tracking the signal from the electronic transmitter and, with the help of a police dog, tracked the driver of the truck to the hotel's pool area. The police dog honed in on defendant and the officers arrested him.

Defendant claimed he had been at the hotel all day and had only left his room to buy a cup of coffee. Defendant described a woman who had served him; however, the person working at that particular coffee shop did not match defendant's description. Defendant subsequently admitted to robbery and carjacking, and the money and handgun were recovered from defendant's truck.

On January 24, 2011, defendant pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery, two counts of carjacking, and seven counts of assault with a firearm, and the trial court indicated a sentencing lid of 23 years four months. The relevant part of the plea colloquy follows:

"THE COURT: . . . Counsel, it's my understanding that there has been a resolution to the first phase of the trial, that is, the guilt phase, and there will be a court trial as it relates to the sanity phase.

"The previously offered 19 years four months [by the prosecutor], there were certain conditions that attached to that. The Court has extended a 23-year four-month offer, which is a lid offer that gives [defense counsel] an opportunity to make additional arguments to the Court if and when we have a sentencing hearing in this matter.

"But in any event, it's my understand[ing], [defense counsel], that your client is prepared at this time to enter pleas of guilty and admit all the allegations to each and every count, correct? [¶] . . . [¶]

"THE COURT: . . . [I]s that the proposed disposition, your client is going to plead to all charges, admit all allegations?

"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Is that correct, [defendant]?

"[DEFENDANT]: Yes, Your Honor. [¶] . . . [¶]

"THE COURT: You understand that you are going to be waiving your right to have a jury trial decide whether or not you were sane at the time these offenses were committed?

"[DEFENDANT]: Yes, Your Honor.

"THE COURT: You understand you have a right to have a jury make that decision?

"[DEFENDANT]: Yes, Your Honor.

"THE COURT: Understanding that right, do you waive it so that this Court, myself, will be making that determination after hearing all of the evidence in that regard?

"[DEFENDANT]: Yes, Your Honor.

"THE COURT: Do you join in that waiver, ...


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