California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County
No. BA441320, Mark S. Arnold, Judge. Affirmed.
Melissa L. Camacho-Cheung, under appointment by the Court of
Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Becerra, Attorney General of California, Gerald A. Engler,
Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Stephanie C. Brenan, Supervising
Deputy Attorney General, Wyatt E. Bloomfield, Deputy Attorney
General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Rodriguez shot a man. A jury convicted Rodriguez of attempted
murder and other crimes. On appeal, Rodriguez argues (1) the
trial court should not have admitted his jailhouse
confession, (2) the court should not have instructed the jury
that eyewitness certainty should be considered when
evaluating eyewitness reliability, (3) there was cumulative
error, (4) his sentence is unconstitutional, and (5) we
should vacate court fees and stay his restitution fine. We
affirm. Code references are to the Penal Code.
facts are these.
was in a gang. He and a fellow gang member followed a man to
Monterey Park, where Rodriguez shot and wounded the man.
Eight months later, Rodriguez was in jail on an unrelated
matter. Police put an informant in his holding cell. The
informant dressed and acted like an inmate. Rodriguez was not
Mirandized. (Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384
U.S. 436, 444 (Miranda).) The informant struck up a
conversation with Rodriguez: “What’s up, homie?
Player from Harbor City.” Rodriguez told the informant
that Rodriguez and his “crime partner” “did
a shooting... [a]ttempted murder.” At one point,
without exposing the undercover operation, a detective
entered the cell to tell Rodriguez he would be charged with
attempted murder. That triggered more discussion between
Rodriguez and the informant about the shooting. Police
secretly recorded all this.
Rodriguez spoke to the informant for an hour and forty
minutes, police removed Rodriguez from the holding cell. The
detective Mirandized Rodriguez and, after recounting
facts about the attempted murder, interrogated him.
(Miranda, supra, 384 U.S. at p. 444.) Then
police returned Rodriguez to the holding cell.
informant asked Rodriguez, “What happened fool?”
Rodriguez replied, “Fuckin, uh, they know everything
fool.” After talking some more, Rodriguez said to the
informant, “Look, here’s what happened. I can
have a little bit of trust in you.” Rodriguez proceeded
to tell the informant the details of the shooting. This
second conversation - after Rodriguez returned from speaking
with the detective - lasted 20 minutes.
trial court denied Rodriguez’s motion to exclude his
conversations with the undercover informant. The prosecution
played the recording for the jury.
eyewitnesses identified Rodriguez at trial. The trial court
instructed the jury with CALCRIM No. 315, which tells jurors
to consider a series of questions when evaluating an
eyewitness’s identification, including “How
certain was the witness when he or she made an
identification?” (CALCRIM No. 315.) Rodriguez’s
counsel did not object.
jury convicted Rodriguez of attempted murder and other
crimes. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on
whether the attempted murder was premeditated, and the trial
court granted the prosecution’s motion to dismiss this
charge. The trial court sentenced Rodriguez to 45 years and
four months to life. It imposed a $300 victim restitution
fine, a $90 criminal conviction assessment fine, and a $120
court operations assessment fine.
trial court properly admitted Rodriguez’s conversation
with the informant.
argues admission of the conversation violated (1) his Fifth
Amendment rights because police failed to Mirandize
him before the conversation, and (2) his due process rights
because police coerced him to confess. We address each
erroneous argument in turn. We review the trial court’s
findings of fact for substantial supporting evidence but
independently review the trial court’s legal
determinations. (People v. Orozco (2019) 32
Cal.App.5th 802, 811.)
government was not required to Mirandize Rodriguez
before his conversation with the informant.
supra, 384 U.S. at page 444, held that, under the
Fifth Amendment, courts may admit statements made by suspects
during a custodial interrogation only if police first warn
suspects of their rights. But Miranda warnings are
not required when suspects give voluntary statements to a
person they do not know is a police officer. (Illinois v.
Perkins (1990) 496 U.S. 292, 294.)
did not know he was speaking to the police when he talked to
the undercover informant, so no Miranda warningwas
required. Rodriguez claims he “felt coerced”
because the informant posed as “an older,
well-connected gang member.” Rodriguez says that
coercion was especially strong because he was confined to the
same cell as the informant for around two hours.
coercion identified by Rodriguez is not the sort that
concerned the Miranda court. Miranda does
not protect suspects when they describe criminal activities
to people they think are cellmates. (Illinois v.
Perkins, supra, 496 U.S. at p. 298.) Rather,
Miranda addressed concerns that a
“police-dominated atmosphere” generates
“inherently compelling pressures” that
“undermine the individual’s will to resist”
questioning. (Id. at p. 296 [quoting
Miranda, supra, 334 U.S. at pp. 445,
467.].) Those concerns evaporate when, as here, an inmate
speaks freely to someone he believes is a fellow inmate.
(Illinois v. Perkins, supra, 496 U.S. at p.
cites no case holding Miranda warnings are required
before an undercover informant speaks to an inmate. We know
of none. During Rodriguez’s conversation with the
informant, the government did not brandish its authority or
intimidate him into speaking. Like the defendant in
Perkins, Rodriguez spoke freely and at his own
peril. (Illinois v. Perkins, supra, 496
U.S. at p. 298.)
government did not coerce Rodriguez into confessing
process clauses of the federal and California constitutions
bar courts from admitting involuntary confessions.
(Withrow v. Williams (1993) 507 U.S. 680,
688–689; People v. Boyette (2002) 29 Cal.4th
381, 411.) To determine whether Rodriguez’s confession
was involuntary, we assess the circumstances to see if his
will was overborne. (Schneckloth v. Bustamonte
(1973) 412 U.S. 218, 225–226; People v.
Boyette, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 411.)
argues the government coerced him into confessing because he
was “put in a locked cell with an older gang
member” to whom Rodriguez was required to “show
respect to, gain respect from, and gain protection