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Breaking Legal Developments


Published by:
Peter A. Lynch, Esq.
of Cozen O'Connor


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:      This weekly newsletter covers:

  1. Arson Eye Witness Testimony Found Adequate


In State v. Dubose, No. AC 21999, the defendant was charged with two counts of the crime of arson in the first degree. She was convicted and appealed challenging instructions related to eye witness testimony. Those witnesses testified that in the early morning hours on the day of the fire, they witnessed the defendant park her blue vehicle on the one-way street along the side of the residence that later burned. She proceeded to open the trunk of the car, remove a square container and enter the home. A few minutes later she exited the property and just moments later fire emerged from the home.

The defendant contended the witnesses had criminal records and were not credible. Moreover, she claimed the jury instructions were not proper as they did not address possible fabrication. The record revealed that the court sufficiently addressed the issue of witness credibility, witnesses' abilities to observe their attitude and demeanor on the witness stand, and their powers of observation, judgment, recollection and any prejudice or bias. The court instructed the jury if you should conclude that a witness has not only testified inaccurately, but that he or she has done that intentionally or willfully, in other words lied to you, that fact would cast a very serious doubt upon of that witnesses' testimony. Furthermore, the court reminded the jurors that the state's two eyewitnesses, Harper and Randolph, were convicted felons and that the jury could find that this status affects their credibility. That instruction was found adequate and the conviction was affirmed.

Mr. Lynch can be reached at Cozen and O'Connor, 501 West Broadway, Suite 1610, San Diego, California 92101, 800-782-3366 (voice), 619-234-7831 (fax), (e-mail), Follow us on Twitter at @firesandrain.

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