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Davis v. Superior Court (People)

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

July 22, 2016

JIM DALE DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Respondent; THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest

          ORIGINAL PROCEEDINGS; petition for writ of mandate, No. IRC22535, Dale R. Wells, Judge.

          Petition granted.

Page 882

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 883

         COUNSEL

         Jim Dale Davis, in pro. per.; and Edward J. Haggerty, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Petitioner.

         No appearance for Respondent.

         Michael A. Hestrin, District Attorney, Emily R. Hanks, Deputy District Attorney, for Real Party in Interest.

         Opinion by McKinster, J., with Ramirez, P. J., and Codrington, J., concurring.

          OPINION

          [205 Cal.Rptr.3d 194] McKINSTER, J.

          In this matter we have reviewed the petition, the informal response by real party in interest, a letter filed by real party in interest on November 3, 2015, and a subsequent letter from petitioner. Having determined that petitioner may have established a right to relief, we set an order to show cause. For the reasons we set forth post, we conclude a writ must issue to require the trial court to at least partially grant petitioner's request for postconviction discovery. (Pen. Code,[1] § 1054.9.)

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A jury convicted petitioner of three counts of first degree murder with enhancements. ( People v. Brown (Oct. 6, 1998, E018586) [205 Cal.Rptr.3d 195] [nonpub. opn.].) The trial court sentenced petitioner to multiple terms of life without the possibility of parole.

Page 884

         Toward the end of 2011, petitioner notified the trial court that he sought postconviction discovery under section 1054.9. On January 26, 2012, the trial court held a hearing on petitioner's request. It ordered petitioner and real party in interest to informally resolve the issues of what discovery materials petitioner would receive but informed petitioner he would need to pay for copies before anything would be released. The parties subsequently exchanged several letters on this topic.

         On March 4, 2015, petitioner once again wrote the trial court about receiving postconviction discovery. He indicated that, in correspondence with real party in interest, he had narrowed the list of items he wanted to six items, including police reports, the " Murder book," all suspects questioned, all fingerprints collected, all DNA collected, and all witness statements. He also argued he could not be forced to pay for copies of discovery because he was indigent and could not be treated differently from wealthier defendants.

         Real party in interest filed a written opposition to petitioner's March 4, 2015 request. It contended petitioner's discovery requests were vague and/or overbroad and asserted petitioner could not evade paying for copies of postconviction discovery.

         On April 22, 2015, the court issued a minute order regarding petitioner's March 4, 2015 request under section 1054.9. It flatly denied the request for postconviction discovery without explanation.

         The instant petition followed. After we set an order to show cause, real party in interest opted to stand on its informal response instead of filing a return. Real party in interest did, however, file a letter on November 3, 2015, indicating that Paula Mitchell, an attorney from the Innocence Project at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (Innocence Project), had contacted its office and offered to pay the costs of producing the discovery petitioner requested. A declaration attached to that letter attests than Alan D. Tate, an attorney in the office of real party in interest, mailed a disk containing " electronic copies of the documentary and photographic discovery" contained in the file from the prosecution of ...


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