Supreme Court of California Justia
Citation 50 Cal. 4th 890, 237 P.3d 980, 114 Cal. Rptr. 3d 576

Barnett v. Super. Ct.

Filed 8/26/10

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

LEE MAX BARNETT,
Petitioner,
S165522
v.
Ct.App. 3 C051311
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF
BUTTE COUNTY,
Respondent;
Butte County
THE PEOPLE,
Super. Ct. No. 91850
Real Party in Interest.

Petitioner Lee Max Barnett is under a judgment of death. He filed in the
superior court a motion for postconviction discovery under Penal Code section
1054.9 (section 1054.9). We granted review to decide important issues regarding
that section. We reach the following conclusions:
(1) Because section 1054.9 provides only for specific discovery and not the
proverbial “fishing expedition” for anything that might exist, defendants seeking
discovery beyond recovering what the prosecution had provided to the defense
before trial must show a reasonable basis to believe that specific requested
materials actually exist. But they do not additionally have to show that they are
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material within the meaning of Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 (Brady) and
its progeny.
(2) Section 1054.9 does not govern materials in the possession of out-of-
state law enforcement agencies that merely provided the prosecution with
information or assistance under the circumstances of this case.
I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In 1988, in the Butte County Superior Court, petitioner was convicted of
first degree murder with special circumstances, as well as other crimes, and was
sentenced to death. We affirmed the judgment. (People v. Barnett (1998) 17
Cal.4th 1044.) We have subsequently denied two habeas corpus petitions that are
irrelevant to the instant matter, one after issuing an order to show cause and an
opinion. (In re Barnett (2003) 31 Cal.4th 466 [concerning pro se habeas corpus
petitions filed by capital inmates already represented by counsel].)
We briefly summarized the facts underlying petitioner‟s conviction in In re
Barnett: “It suffices to note that a jury convicted petitioner in 1988 of one count
of assault with a firearm, several counts of kidnapping and robbery, and one count
of first degree murder. Petitioner committed his crimes upon encountering the
victims unexpectedly in 1986 at a remote campsite in a Butte County gold mining
area. The evidence at trial included testimony from persons present at the
encounter, including petitioner, and from others who had contact with petitioner
the summer before the crimes occurred or immediately afterward.” (In re Barnett,
supra, 31 Cal.4th at p. 469.) At the penalty phase of the trial, the prosecution also
presented evidence that petitioner had committed numerous other violent crimes
and had various prior felony convictions. This criminal behavior and these
convictions occurred between 1965 and 1988 in Canada, New York, Florida,
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Arizona, and Massachusetts, as well as California. (People v. Barnett, supra, 17
Cal.4th at pp. 1080-1081.)
In July 2004, petitioner filed a discovery motion in the Butte County
Superior Court pursuant to section 1054.9. As the Court of Appeal summarized,
“In his discovery motion, Barnett sought various materials, including materials
now missing from the numbered discovery provided during trial, materials the
prosecution allegedly failed to produce in response to a discovery order during
trial, and various other materials.” (Much of the following discussion is taken
from the Court of Appeal opinion.) Informal communications between the parties
resolved some of the discovery issues, but the parties disagreed regarding other
requests, and they litigated the matter in superior court. At one point, petitioner
filed a brief that identified 60 items or categories of items he was seeking to
discover. After further informal discussions, petitioner‟s counsel informed the
court that the prosecution had produced over 300 pages of discovery materials and
64 compact discs of audiotape recordings. But areas of disagreement remained.
Ultimately, the superior court issued a ruling, granting some of the disputed
discovery requests and denying others.
Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of mandate in the Court of
Appeal. He sought to compel the superior court to grant the discovery requests it
had denied. At issue was the superior court‟s denial, in whole or in part, of 24
different discovery requests. The Court of Appeal issued an alternative writ of
mandate and ultimately addressed the 24 discovery requests in dispute in an
exhaustive opinion. It granted the petition in part and denied it in part, and we
granted review on specified issues. (Barnett v. Superior Court (Apr. 25, 2007,
S150229.)
While the case was pending in this court, the Criminal Justice Legal
Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief arguing that section 1054.9 was an invalid
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amendment of the statutory provisions of Proposition 115, enacted in 1990. In
January 2008, we transferred the case back to the Court of Appeal to decide this
question in the first instance. The Court of Appeal found that section 1054.9 is
valid and otherwise essentially reiterated its first opinion.
In addition to upholding section 1054.9‟s validity, the Court of Appeal
made three holdings now before us on review:
(1) “[A] law enforcement agency that provides a report relating to previous
criminal conduct by a defendant charged with a capital offense can be deemed to
have been „involved in the investigation or prosecution of the case‟ against the
defendant, such that materials in the possession of that agency are subject to
discovery under section 1054.9.” Accordingly, it ordered discovery of original
notes from 22 out-of-state law enforcement officers who worked for six different
out-of-state law enforcement agencies and who, according to petitioner, had been
involved in investigating petitioner‟s prior crimes later used as aggravating
evidence at the penalty phase of his trial.
(2) “ „[I]n moving for discovery under section 1054.9, the defendant does
not have to prove the actual existence (or a good faith belief in the actual
existence) of discovery materials in the possession of the prosecution and/or the
relevant law enforcement authorities as a prerequisite to obtaining an order for
discovery under the statute.‟ ” (Quoting the same panel‟s earlier opinion in People
v. Superior Court (Maury) (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 473, 485; see generally id. at
pp. 479-485.)
(3) “[W]hen a defendant seeks discovery under section 1054.9 on the
theory that he would have been entitled to the requested materials at time of trial
under Brady[, supra, 373 U.S. 83], the defendant bears the burden of establishing
the materiality of the evidence he seeks.”
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Both the People and petitioner sought review. In their respective petitions,
the People challenged the first two of these holdings and petitioner the third. We
granted both petitions and, on our own motion, ordered review of section 1054.9‟s
validity. We have resolved the latter question in another case and found the
statute valid. (People v. Superior Court (Pearson) (2010) 48 Cal.4th 564.)
Accordingly, we will not now consider the statute‟s validity.
II. DISCUSSION
In 2002, the Legislature enacted section 1054.9, providing for
postconviction discovery in certain circumstances. Subdivisions (a) and (b) of that
section, the portions relevant here, provide: “(a) Upon the prosecution of a
postconviction writ of habeas corpus or a motion to vacate a judgment in a case in
which a sentence of death or of life in prison without the possibility of parole has
been imposed, and on a showing that good faith efforts to obtain the discovery
materials from trial counsel were made and were unsuccessful, the court shall,
except as provided in subdivision (c) [relating to physical evidence], order that the
defendant be provided reasonable access to any of the materials described in
subdivision (b).
“(b) For purposes of this section, „discovery materials‟ means materials in
the possession of the prosecution and law enforcement authorities to which the
same defendant would have been entitled at time of trial.”
In In re Steele (2004) 32 Cal.4th 682 (Steele), we resolved some issues
regarding section 1054.9‟s meaning, but others remain. Here, we must decide (1)
what burden, if any, defendants have to show that the requested discovery
materials actually exist and are material; and (2) whether section 1054.9 applies to
discovery materials that out-of-state law enforcement agencies possess.
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A. Whether Defendants Have a Burden to Show Entitlement to
Discovery Materials
The legislative history behind section 1054.9 shows that the Legislature‟s
main purpose was to enable defendants efficiently to reconstruct defense
attorneys‟ trial files that might have become lost or destroyed after trial. (See
Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 694.) For example, the following discussion
appears repeatedly in committee reports and other legislative history materials:
“According to the sponsor, „The problem that occurs all too often is this: a
defendant‟s files are lost or destroyed after trial and habeas counsel is unable to
obtain the original documents because the State has no legal obligation to provide
them absent a court order. This leads to many delays and causes unnecessary
public expenditures as prosecutors and habeas counsel litigate whether the
defendant can demonstrate a need to re-access the materials and information
originally available to him or her at trial.
“ „Currently, as expressed in People v. Gonzalez (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1179,
habeas corpus counsel is required to establish all of the elements of a claim for
habeas corpus relief before the court will entertain a motion to provide such
original documents as police reports, ballistic tests and other materials and
information. If habeas counsel cannot obtain the documents needed to meet this
threshold showing because trial counsel‟s files have been lost or destroyed, the
injustice is clear. The existing remedy, as discussed in Gonzalez, is woefully
inadequate in cases where a defendant‟s file, through no fault of their own, no
longer exists. The purpose of this bill is to provide a reasonable avenue for habeas
counsel to obtain documents to which trial counsel was already legally entitled.‟ ”
(E.g., Assem. Com. on Public Safety, Analysis of Sen. Bill No. 1391 (2001-2002
Reg. Sess.) as amended Apr. 10, 2002, p. 3.)
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The Legislature‟s purpose of enabling file reconstruction should not be
difficult to implement. Defendants should first seek to obtain their trial files from
trial counsel. But if a defendant can show a legitimate reason for believing trial
counsel‟s current files are incomplete (for example, if, as here, not all numbered
discovery is available), the defendant should be able to work with the prosecution
to obtain copies of any missing discovery materials it had provided to the defense
before trial (assuming it still possesses them). (See Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p.
692 [suggesting informal efforts to resolve discovery matters].) If necessary, the
trial court can order the prosecution to provide any materials it still possesses that
it had provided at time of trial. As the Court of Appeal noted in a different case,
“it is possible that a defendant seeking discovery under section 1054.9 will simply
have no idea whether the materials he obtained from trial counsel — assuming he
obtained any at all — amount to all of the materials the prosecution turned over
during trial.” (People v. Superior Court (Maury), supra, 145 Cal.App.4th at p.
482.) Accordingly, we agree with Maury (and the Court of Appeal here, which
followed Maury in this regard) that, when trying to reconstruct files, defendants
need not identify all missing discovery materials that the prosecution had
previously provided to the defense or show that they are still in the prosecution‟s
possession.
A problem exists, however, because, as we explained in Steele, although
“the bill‟s main focus was to permit reconstruction of lost files,” the statutory
language provides for more than that. (Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 694.) The
statute permits discovery of materials “to which trial counsel was legally entitled,”
which “is broader than mere file reconstruction.” (Ibid.) Here, petitioner seeks
much more than mere file reconstruction. His discovery motion contained a wide
range of requests, some reasonably specific, others open-ended. At one point in
this litigation, for example, he identified 60 different items or categories of items
7
that he sought. Even after the trial court granted many of his requests, petitioner
challenged in this writ proceeding the denial or partial denial of 24 others. He
sought “any information in the government‟s hands regarding any of its witnesses‟
motives to lie or biases for the State or against Mr. Barnett.” Thus, in addition to
some specific requests, petitioner was on a proverbial fishing expedition for
anything that might exist.
In Steele, we stated that “section 1054.9 does provide only limited
discovery. It does not allow „free-floating‟ discovery asking for virtually anything
the prosecution possesses.” (Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 695.) In discussing
what materials beyond file reconstruction defendants were entitled to obtain, we
repeatedly used the word “specific.” For example, we said the obtainable
discovery “includes specific materials that the defendant can show the prosecution
should have provided (but did not provide) at the time of trial because they came
within the scope of a discovery order the trial court actually issued at time of trial
or a statutory duty to provide discovery.” (Ibid.) We also noted Evidence Code
section 664‟s presumption that an official duty has been regularly performed and
said that, before being entitled to discovery under section 1054.9, the defendant
must overcome this “presumption as to specific evidence.” (Steele, supra, at p.
694.) As we have explained, the Legislature was primarily concerned with
preventing the problems that occur when the trial attorney‟s files no longer exist
through no fault of the defendant. This concern, together with the Legislature‟s
evident intent to make section 1054.9 an efficient method of discovery, causes us
to conclude that section 1054.9 requires defendants who seek discovery beyond
file reconstruction to show a reasonable basis to believe that other specific
materials actually exist. Otherwise, a discovery request can always become, as
this one has, a free-floating request for anything the prosecution team may
possess.
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In concluding that defendants need not make such a showing, the Court of
Appeal cited its opinion in an earlier case, which had said that such a requirement
“erects a standard that is virtually impossible, if not absolutely impossible, for a
defendant to meet.” (People v. Superior Court (Maury), supra, 145 Cal.App.4th at
p. 480; see also Curl v. Superior Court (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th 310, 324.)
Whether this is so depends on the purpose behind section 1054.9. If the statute‟s
purpose is to allow defendants to search for any material that might exist, then of
course this requirement would be impossible to meet. But if the statute‟s purpose
is to allow defendants to receive materials they have reason to believe they are
missing, then the standard is logical, not impossible. The legislative history shows
the statute‟s purpose is the latter.
Requiring defendants to show they have reason to believe specific materials
actually exist does not place an onerous burden on them. Defendants have access
to the trial record and to the discovery materials the prosecution provided to the
defense before trial. Defendants may obtain those materials either from trial
counsel or through file reconstruction. As the Attorney General notes, a person
could use these resources “to make the necessary showing. For example, if a
witness testifies about a particular report that the petitioner does not possess, the
petitioner would have sufficient evidence to justify a request for that report under
section 1054.9. It would also be appropriate for a petitioner to seek access to a
report he or she does not possess that is cross-referenced in a police report
possessed by the petitioner. Similarly, if evidence in the record indicates that a
particular witness was interviewed three times and the petitioner has reports
documenting only two interviews, that petitioner could make the necessary
showing, based on the record, that a third report likely exists.”
Petitioner challenges our reliance in Steele on Evidence Code section 664‟s
presumption that official duties have been regularly performed. He argues it is
9
merely an evidentiary presumption for trial purposes. But the United States
Supreme Court has cited a similar presumption as a reason to deny discovery
regarding speculative misconduct claims. (Bracy v. Gramley (1997) 520 U.S. 899,
909 [“Ordinarily, we presume that public officials have „ “properly discharged
their official duties.” ‟ [Citation.] Were it possible to indulge this presumption
here, we might well agree . . . that petitioner‟s submission and his compensatory-
bias theory are too speculative to warrant discovery. But . . . the presumption has
been soundly rebutted . . .”].) Similarly, in a case involving the prosecution‟s duty
to provide exculpatory materials, the high court stated that “[m]ere speculation
that some exculpatory material may have been withheld is unlikely to establish
good cause for a discovery request on collateral review.” (Strickler v. Greene
(1999) 527 U.S. 263, 286.) We believe the Legislature intended the courts to
interpret section 1054.9 in a similar manner.
This brings us to a related question. The Court of Appeal held that in order
to receive potentially exculpatory materials, petitioner “bears the burden of
establishing the materiality of the evidence he seeks.” This holding was based on
the circumstance that, to establish a violation of the prosecution‟s duty to disclose
exculpatory evidence, a defendant challenging a conviction must establish not
only that the prosecution withheld the evidence but also that the evidence was
material, meaning that it is reasonably probable the result would have been
different had the evidence been disclosed. (See Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at pp.
697-698 [discussing Brady, supra, 373 U.S. 83, and its progeny].) Petitioner
challenges, and the Attorney General defends, this holding. We agree with
petitioner that he need not establish materiality before he even sees the evidence.
The showing that defendants must make to establish a violation of the
prosecution‟s duty to disclose exculpatory evidence differs from the showing
necessary merely to receive the evidence. For example, Penal Code section
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1054.1, subdivision (e), requires the prosecution to disclose “[a]ny exculpatory
evidence,” not just material exculpatory evidence. To prevail on a claim the
prosecution violated this duty, defendants challenging a conviction would have to
show materiality, but they do not have to make that showing just to be entitled to
receive the evidence before trial. The trial in this case predated the enactment of
Penal Code section 1054.1, so its provisions did not govern the trial, but the statute
illustrates the difference between being entitled to relief for a Brady violation and
being entitled merely to receive the evidence. If petitioner can show he has a
reasonable basis for believing a specific item of exculpatory evidence exists, he is
entitled to receive that evidence without additionally having to show its
materiality.
In summary, we conclude that, to be entitled to receive discovery beyond
merely recovering items that the prosecutor had provided to defense counsel
before trial, defendants must show they have a reasonable basis to believe that the
specific materials they seek actually exist. To obviate one concern that petitioner
has expressed, we note that a reasonable basis to believe that the prosecution had
possessed the materials in the past would also provide a reasonable basis to
believe the prosecution still possesses the materials. Petitioner need not make
some additional showing that the prosecution still possesses the materials, a
showing that would be impossible to make. (However, as we explained in Steele,
1054.9 “imposes no preservation duties that do not otherwise exist.” [Steele,
supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 695.].) We disapprove People v. Superior Court (Maury),
supra, 145 Cal.App.4th 473, and Curl v. Superior Court, supra, 140 Cal.App.4th
310, to the extent they are inconsistent with this opinion.
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B. Whether Penal Code section 1054.9 Extends to Materials in the
Possession of Out-of-State Law Enforcement Agencies
In Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at page 696, we considered “the question of
exactly who must possess the materials for them to come within [section 1054.9‟s]
scope.” We concluded that the statute governs discovery “materials currently in
the possession of the prosecution or law enforcement authorities involved in the
investigation or prosecution of the case . . . .” (Id. at p. 697.) The question before
us is whether section 1054.9 governs materials in the possession of out-of-state
law enforcement agencies that merely provided the prosecution with information
or assistance under the circumstances of this case.
In Steele, we explained that “[s]ection 1054.9, subdivision (b), refers to
„materials in the possession of the prosecution and law enforcement
authorities . . . .‟ Thus, the materials include not only those the prosecution itself
possesses but those that law enforcement authorities possess. The discovery
obligation, however, does not extend to all law enforcement authorities
everywhere in the world but, we believe, only to law enforcement authorities who
were involved in the investigation or prosecution of the case.” (Steele, supra, 32
Cal.4th at p. 696.) For guidance, we referred to the general pretrial discovery
provisions, which “limit trial discovery to materials the prosecutor possesses or
knows „to be in the possession of the investigating agencies . . . .‟ (Pen. Code,
§ 1054.1, italics added.)” (Steele, supra, at p. 696.) Because we did not read
section 1054.9 as creating a broader postconviction discovery right than exists
pretrial, we concluded that the “law enforcement authorities” referred to in section
1054.9 are similar to the “investigating agencies” referred to in Penal Code section
1054.1. (Steele, supra, at p. 696.) We also found instructive the provisions of
Penal Code section 1054.5, subdivision (a), which seemed to define further what
12
investigating agencies the pretrial discovery provisions cover. That subdivision
provides that the general discovery “provisions are the only means for the
defendant to compel discovery „from prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement
agencies which investigated or prepared the case against the defendant, or any
other persons or agencies which the prosecuting attorney or investigating agency
may have employed to assist them in performing their duties.‟ ” (Steele, supra, at
p. 696.) Reading all of these provisions together, we concluded that the pretrial
discovery obligations and section 1054.9‟s discovery rights “do not extend to
materials possessed by law enforcement agencies that were not involved in
investigating or preparing the case against the defendant.” (Steele, supra, at p.
696.)
Steele further explained that this “conclusion is consistent with the scope of
the prosecution‟s constitutional duty to disclose exculpatory information. „The
scope of this disclosure obligation extends beyond the contents of the prosecutor‟s
case file and encompasses the duty to ascertain as well as divulge “any favorable
evidence known to the others acting on the government’s behalf . . . .” ‟ (In re
Brown (1998) 17 Cal.4th 873, 879, italics added, quoting Kyles v. Whitley (1995)
514 U.S. 419, 437.) „As a concomitant of this duty, any favorable evidence
known to the others acting on the government‟s behalf is imputed to the
prosecution. “The individual prosecutor is presumed to have knowledge of all
information gathered in connection with the government’s investigation.” ‟ (In re
Brown, supra, at p. 879, italics added, quoting U.S. v. Payne (2d Cir. 1995) 63
F.3d 1200, 1208.) Thus, the prosecution is responsible not only for evidence in its
own files but also for information possessed by others acting on the government‟s
behalf that [was] gathered in connection with the investigation. But the
prosecution cannot reasonably be held responsible for evidence in the possession
of all governmental agencies, including those not involved in the investigation or
13
prosecution of the case. „Conversely, a prosecutor does not have a duty to disclose
exculpatory evidence or information to a defendant unless the prosecution team
actually or constructively possesses that evidence or information. Thus,
information possessed by an agency that has no connection to the investigation or
prosecution of the criminal charge against the defendant is not possessed by the
prosecution team, and the prosecutor does not have the duty to search for or to
disclose such material.‟ (People v. Superior Court (Barrett) (2000) 80
Cal.App.4th 1305, 1315.)” (Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at pp. 696-697.)
We must decide how these principles apply to out-of-state law enforcement
agencies. Petitioner argues that the out-of-state law enforcement agencies
involved in this case are part of the prosecution team under section 1054.9. In this
regard, he filed in this court a “motion to take documentary evidence or for other
appropriate relief.” Attached to the motion are copies of correspondence in 1987
between the Butte County District Attorney and a New York law enforcement
agency. Those documents, which are not otherwise part of the record in this case,
show that the New York authorities supplied the district attorney with information
concerning crimes petitioner had committed in New York and helped put the
California authorities in touch with at least one of the victims, who testified at
petitioner‟s capital trial in California. The Attorney General stated he does not
object to this court‟s considering these documents. Accordingly, we issued an
order granting the motion and have considered the documents attached to
petitioner‟s motion to be part of the record in this case. These and other records
show that the out-of-state agencies provided assistance and perhaps conducted a
few interviews of potential witnesses.
Although the out-of state law enforcement agencies acted on behalf of the
prosecution in a limited sense, we believe that they are not part of the
“ „prosecution team‟ ” as discussed in Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at page 697.
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Whether discovery under section 1054.9 extends so far is a matter of statutory
interpretation. The legislative history, discussed in part II. A, ante, is
inconclusive, but it shows that the Legislature expected and intended that section
1054.9 would provide a useful, reasonably efficient, and workable, method for a
defendant to obtain readily available discovery materials. We do not believe the
Legislature intended to compel discovery from the out-of-state agencies of this
case that the prosecution does not itself possess.
In Steele, we analogized section 1054.9‟s discovery provisions to the
prosecution‟s duty to provide material exculpatory evidence, i.e., what is
sometimes called “Brady material.” (Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at pp. 696-697; see
Brady, supra, 373 U.S. 83.) As Steele explained, the pretrial obligation to provide
Brady material extends not only to materials the prosecutor personally possesses
but, to some extent, to materials others possess as well. (See also Strickler v.
Greene, supra, 527 U.S. at p. 275, fn. 12 [duty extends to materials possessed by
police department of another county in the same state that investigated the charged
crime]; Giglio v. United States (1972) 405 U.S. 150, 154 [duty extends to material
possessed by another prosecutor in the same office].) But the duty does not extend
to all law enforcement agencies that might possess relevant material. (Steele,
supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 696.)
A federal court that had to decide whether an agency was part of the
prosecution team for Brady purposes considered three relevant questions: “ „(1)
whether the party with knowledge of the information is acting on the
government‟s “behalf” or is under its “control”; (2) the extent to which state and
federal governments are part of a “team,” are participating in a “joint
investigation” or are sharing resources; and (3) whether the entity charged with
constructive possession has “ready access” to the evidence.‟ ” (U.S. v. Reyeros
(3d Cir. 2008) 537 F.3d 270, 282, quoting United States v. Risha (3d Cir. 2006)
15
445 F.3d 298, 304.) Here, the out-of-state agencies acted on the prosecution‟s
behalf in the sense that they provided certain limited assistance on request. But
none of them were or are under the control of any California authorities — an
important factor. (See U.S. v. Aichele (9th Cir. 1991) 941 F.2d 761, 764 [“The
prosecution is under no obligation to turn over materials not under its control.”].)
They were not part of a team participating in a joint investigation or sharing
resources, but merely provided specific assistance. Regarding whether the
California prosecution had ready access to the evidence, presumably they actually
received any information out-of-state agencies gathered on their behalf. An out-
of-state agency that gathered information but did not provide it to the California
prosecutors can surely not be considered part of the California prosecution team.
If California prosecutors did receive the information, petitioner can seek discovery
directly from the prosecution. If California prosecutors did not receive the
information, no reason appears to believe they had or have ready access to it.
Two federal decisions are closely on point. In Moon v. Head (11th Cir.
2002) 285 F.3d 1301, a Georgia death penalty case, the prosecution presented
evidence of a murder the defendant had committed in Tennessee as aggravating
evidence at the sentencing phase of his trial. As part of its evidence, the
prosecutor called as a witness Davenport, an investigator for the Tennessee Bureau
of Investigation (TBI), who had previously turned over his investigative file to the
Georgia prosecutor. (Id. at pp. 1304-1305, 1308.) The defendant later claimed the
prosecutor violated Brady, supra, 373 U.S. 83, by withholding allegedly
exculpatory information that the TBI possessed. The court concluded that the
Georgia prosecutor did not possess this information for Brady purposes. It
“refuse[d] to impute to the Georgia prosecutor the evidence regarding [the
Tennessee murder] possessed by Davenport and the TBI. . . . [T]he Georgia and
Tennessee agencies shared no resources or labor; they did not work together to
16
investigate the [Tennessee or the charged Georgia] murders. Nor is there evidence
that anyone at the TBI was acting as an agent of the Georgia prosecutor.
Davenport was not under the direction or supervision of the Georgia officials, and,
had he chosen to do so, could have refused to share any information with the
Georgia prosecutor. At most, the Georgia prosecutor utilized Davenport as a
witness to provide background information to the Georgia courts. This is
insufficient to establish Davenport as part of the Georgia „prosecution team.‟ ”
(Moon, supra, at p. 1310, fn. omitted.)
In U.S. v. Kern (8th Cir. 1993) 12 F.3d 122, a noncapital case that the
federal government tried, the prosecutor presented evidence that the defendant had
committed another crime, which Nebraska law enforcement agencies had
investigated. The court held that the federal prosecutor did not possess allegedly
exculpatory materials in the possession of state authorities for Brady purposes.
“We do not accept the defendants‟ proposal that we impute the knowledge of the
State of Nebraska to a federal prosecutor.” (Kern, supra, at p. 126.)
In this case, the Court of Appeal found that Moon v. Head, supra, 285 F.3d
1301 (and, presumably, U.S. v. Kern, supra, 12 F.3d 122) did not apply because
“California courts do not interpret the constitutional duty to disclose exculpatory
information as limited to information in the actual possession of the „prosecution
team.‟ ” Instead, it concluded that “even if the out-of-state law enforcement
agencies were not part of the „prosecution team,‟ the People used those agencies to
assist in their prosecution of the capital case against Barnett. Accordingly, the
People had constructive possession of information possessed by those agencies,
and the People‟s constitutional duty to disclose exculpatory information extended
to information in the possession of those agencies.”
We disagree. We have ourselves used the term “prosecution team” to
describe the extent of the prosecutor‟s Brady obligations. (Steele, supra, 32
17
Cal.4th at p. 697; In re Brown, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 879.) Moreover, we have
found “no reason to assume the [pretrial discovery language of Penal Code section
1054.1] assigns the prosecutor a broader duty to discover and disclose evidence in
the hands of other agencies than do Brady and its progeny.” (People v. Zambrano
(2007) 41 Cal.4th 1082, 1133-1134.) In any event, we need not decide
definitively whether the out-of-state agencies would have been considered part of
the prosecution team under pretrial discovery rules. Section 1054.9 is a posttrial
discovery provision. For the reasons discussed, we do not believe the Legislature
intended the posttrial discovery right to extend so far as to permit a court to order
discovery from 22 law enforcement officers working for six different out-of-state
agencies, one outside the country, regarding crimes committed between 1965 and
1988. (See also District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne (2009) __ U.S. __, __ [129
S.Ct. 2308, 2320] [distinguishing between the pretrial and the posttrial obligation
to provide exculpatory evidence].)
Accordingly, we conclude the prosecution is not required to provide
discovery of materials from the out-of-state law enforcement agencies of this case
that the prosecution does not itself possess.
III. CONCLUSION
We believe the instant discovery dispute is best resolved by remanding the
matter back to the trial court, where the parties can try to settle it informally
consistent with the views expressed in this opinion. If informal efforts fail, the
trial court can issue a new order consistent with this opinion. If necessary, either
party may then challenge the new order by a writ proceeding in the Court of
Appeal.
18
We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand the matter to
that court with directions to remand the matter to the trial court for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
CHIN, J.
WE CONCUR:

GEORGE, C.J.
BAXTER, J.
CORRIGAN, J.

19



CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION BY MORENO, J.

I agree with section II.A. of the majority opinion that defendants seeking
postconviction discovery under Penal Code section 1054.9 must show a
reasonable basis to believe that those items actually exist, but do not have to show
further that those items are material within the meaning of Brady v. Maryland
(1963) 373 U.S. 83. But I disagree with section II.B. of the majority opinion that
section 1054.9 does not permit discovery of materials in the possession of out-of-
state law enforcement agencies under the circumstances of this case.
I agree with section II. of Justice Werdegar‟s dissent, post, that, at the least,
petitioner is entitled to discover information in the possession of the New York
State Police that relates to the information that agency gathered for the prosecution
in this case. I dissent from the majority‟s contrary holding.
MORENO, J.
1



DISSENTING OPINION BY WERDEGAR, J.

The United States Constitution requires certain minimum procedural
protections in criminal cases generally and capital cases in particular. The states,
however, are “absolutely free” to provide defendants with greater protection.
(Arizona v. Evans (1995) 514 U.S. 1, 8.) The prerogative to provide such
protections lies in the first instance with our Legislature. In 2002, dissatisfied with
this court‟s refusal to permit postconviction discovery motions (People v.
Gonzales (1990) 51 Cal.3d 1179, 1256-1257), the Legislature directed courts to
provide convicted defendants with any “materials . . . to which [they] would have
been entitled at the time of trial” (Pen. Code,1 § 1054.9, subd. (b), added by Stats.
2002, ch. 1105, § 1; see generally In re Steele (2004) 32 Cal.4th 682 (Steele)).
The Legislature having thus spoken, it is not our place to burden the new statutory
right with judicially created conditions that substantially diminish its value.
Because this is the effect of today‟s opinion, I dissent and invite the Legislature to
reassert its prerogative in terms that cannot so easily be ignored.2

1
All further statutory citations are to the Penal Code, except as noted.
2
I agree with the majority on one point only: A defendant seeking
information through postjudgment discovery under section 1054.9 need not prove
the information is material. (See maj. opn., ante, at pp. 1-2, 10-11.)
1



I. THRESHOLD BURDEN
In Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th 682, we rejected the Attorney General‟s
contention that section 1054.9 was nothing more than a file reconstruction statute.
The statute does not, we explained, “limit [postconviction] discovery to materials
the defendant actually possessed to the exclusion of materials the defense should
have possessed. If the Legislature had intended to limit the discovery to file
reconstruction it could easily have said so.” (Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 693.)
Today, however, the majority eviscerates our prior holding by imposing a
daunting, often insurmountable threshold burden on defendants who seek
discovery beyond mere file reconstruction. Specifically, the majority holds that
defendants who seek materials the prosecutor should have, but did not, disclose
must first show that specific undisclosed materials actually exist. (Maj. opn., ante,
at p. 1; see also id., at p. 8.) If the defendant cannot successfully divine the
contents of the prosecutor‟s files, the majority continues, courts should simply
presume the People have satisfied their obligations and deny the motion without
further inquiry. (See maj. opn., ante, at p. 8, citing Evid. Code, § 664 [“It is
presumed that official duty has been regularly performed.”].) This interpretation
of the postconviction discovery statute (§ 1054.9), lacking any basis in the
statute‟s language, is wholly illegitimate.
The majority‟s interpretation of the statute is also intolerably unfair to the
defense. As another court has aptly observed, “[i]t is axiomatic that one cannot
prove what was not turned over if one does not know what was not turned over.
Likewise it is simply nonsensical to apply a presumption that a duty was regularly
performed for purposes of barring a request for materials that would show a duty
was not regularly performed.” (Curl v. Superior Court (2006) 140 Cal.App.4th
310, 324.) In any event, the presumption does not properly affect the People‟s
discovery obligations. In that context, “the „special role played by the American
2

prosecutor in the search for truth in criminal trials‟ ” compels an exception to the
ordinary “ „presum[ption] that public officials have properly discharged their
official duties.‟ ” (Banks v. Dretke (2004) 540 U.S. 668, 696.) “A rule thus
declaring „prosecution may hide, defendant must seek,‟ is not tenable in a system
constitutionally bound to accord defendant due process.” (Ibid.)3
To hold that a defendant must prove specific undisclosed materials exist
before requesting their production will inevitably have the pernicious effect of
shielding both negligent and intentional failures to produce relevant evidence.
This is not speculation. In the case before us, the prosecutor‟s inadvertent failure
to produce police reports that fell within the scope of a specific pretrial discovery
order came to light only when defendant requested such materials in posttrial
discovery. Under today‟s holding, defendant‟s request would have been denied at
the outset because he had no way to prove the reports existed, and they would
never have come to light.
Seeking to play down the newly created threshold burden, the majority
suggests the record will occasionally give the defense a basis for proving that
specific undisclosed materials do exist. For example, if a witness testifies about a
particular report the defendant does not possess, or if a disclosed report cross-
references an additional, undisclosed report, the defendant would presumably have
sufficient evidence to justify a discovery request under section 1054.9. (See maj.
opn., ante, at p. 9.) I do not doubt that, in a few rare cases, random events may
reveal that the prosecution has in fact failed to comply with its disclosure

3
In Bracy v. Gramely (1997) 520 U.S. 899, 909, an older case on which the
majority relies (maj. opn., ante, at p. 10), the high court declined to rely on a
presumption that officials had performed their duty as a reason to deny discovery.
3



obligations. But the Legislature cannot reasonably be thought to have intended to
condition an important statutory right on fortuities.
In any event, nothing in the language of the postconviction discovery statute
supports the majority‟s decision to impose a threshold burden of proof on the
defense. Section 1054.9 provides simply that a defendant is entitled to “materials
in the possession of the prosecution and law enforcement authorities to which the
same defendant would have been entitled at the time of trial.” (Id., subd. (b),
italics added.) The majority attempts to justify its newly created threshold burden
as necessary to prevent speculative fishing expeditions by the defense. I agree that
some of this defendant‟s discovery requests probably do fit that description. But
as fishing expeditions are not proper even before trial, the postconviction
discovery statute does not authorize them, either. (E.g., Kennedy v. Superior
Court (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 359, 393.) To reach this conclusion, we need not
engage in the illegitimate practice of “add[ing] requirements to those already
supplied by the Legislature.” (In re Jennings (2004) 34 Cal.4th 254, 265.) I also
agree that statutes should be interpreted to be efficient and workable (maj. opn.,
ante, at p. 15), and that to permit fishing expeditions is neither. But there is
nothing inefficient or unworkable in requiring the prosecutor, in response to a
proper request for materials to which the defense was entitled before trial (see
§§ 1054.1, subds. (a)-(f), 1054.9, subd. (b)), to verify that the prosecution has
already done what it was required to do and, if such is the case, to state
unambiguously that no undisclosed materials exist. To rely instead on a generic
evidentiary presumption that official duty has been performed (Evid. Code, § 664;
see maj. opn., ante, at p. 8) renders section 1054.9 virtually unenforceable except
as a file reconstruction statute, contrary to Legislative intent. (See Steele, supra,
32 Cal.4th 682, 693.)
4

In its zeal to protect the People from the supposed burden of complying with
their postconviction discovery obligations, the majority goes even farther than the
People ask the court to go. At oral argument, the People contended that
defendant‟s request for interview notes prepared by the New York State Police
should be denied because defendant is unable to show precisely what the New
York agency did at the Butte County prosecutor‟s request, even though
correspondence between the two agencies shows New York enthusiastically
provided witness-related assistance that Butte County described as “very helpful.”
The People thus correctly anticipated, and proposed to apply, the majority‟s
holding imposing a threshold burden of proof on the defense. But later, in
response to questioning from the bench, the People conceded “it might be
appropriate” for the trial court to ask the prosecutor precisely what assistance New
York provided because the prosecutor is “in a position to know,” and that to
require the prosecutor to answer the question would not impose “a huge burden.”
The majority‟s failure to accept the People‟s concession makes it impossible to
accept today‟s holding as necessary to make the postconviction discovery statute
workable and efficient.
II. OUT-OF-STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
The majority also concludes defendant is not entitled to any witness
interview notes prepared by out-of-state law enforcement agencies at the specific
request of the Butte County prosecutor‟s office. (Maj. opn., ante, at pp. 2, 14, 18.)
Although the relevant facts have not yet been fully developed, defendant has
shown that various out-of-state law enforcement agencies4 undertook, at the Butte

4
Specifically, the New York State Police, the Miami-Dade Police
Department (Florida), the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney (Florida), and
the Calgary Police Service (Alberta, Canada).
5



County prosecutor‟s specific request, to locate and interview witnesses who could
offer testimony about defendant‟s prior offenses in connection with the penalty
phase trial.
The New York State Police, in particular, enthusiastically acted as the
prosecutor‟s agents in the penalty phase investigation. In January 1987, the Butte
County District Attorney‟s Office, in a letter to the New York State Police
(NYSP), specifically requested New York‟s “assistance in locating and re-
interviewing the key witnesses in two [New York] investigations, with a view
towards their ultimate testimony in our court in the penalty phase trial.” A
commanding officer of the NYSP‟s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)
responded by directing a troop commander to “assign a member of the BCI to
conduct the appropriate investigation as requested” and to provide further,
continuing assistance upon “any additional request of the [Butte County] District
Attorney‟s Office telephonically conveyed . . . .” The commanding officer
emphasized to his subordinates that “[d]ue to the severity of the charges, the
possible ultimate judgment and certain time considerations in the California
Judicial System, the assigned member is to expedite this investigation as a priority
matter. The result of this investigation and locating of the pertinent witnesses will
be instrumental and extremely important to the prosecution’s position at the
penalty trial.” (Italics added.) The New York agencies did as California asked.
In a followup letter requesting further assistance with respect to a particular
penalty phase witness, the Butte County prosecutor‟s office noted that its efforts
had “been much assisted by [a named] Investigator . . . of your troop in East
6

Greenbush” and that the New York State Police “have been very helpful in our
efforts and we are very appreciative.”5
In view of these facts, candor would seem to require us to acknowledge that
the New York State Police did act on behalf of the Butte County prosecutor in
gathering information in connection with the penalty phase investigation. (See In
re Steele, supra, 32 Cal.4th 682, 697.) Accordingly, any related interview notes
generated by the New York agency would fall squarely within the rule that “the
prosecution is responsible not only for evidence in its own files but also for
information possessed by others acting on the government‟s behalf that were
gathered in connection with the investigation.” (Ibid.)
Seeking to avoid this conclusion, the majority observes, among other things,
that out-of-state law enforcement agencies are not under the Butte County
prosecutor‟s control. (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 16.) But defendant has shown that
New York, at least,6 willingly provided assistance at the prosecutor‟s request in
connection with the penalty phase investigation. Presumably the out-of-state
agencies cooperated out of comity, professional courtesy and a shared dedication
to law enforcement, rather than out of any technical legal compulsion. But if the
Butte County prosecutor can have, simply for the asking, the enthusiastic
cooperation of out-of-state agencies in generating information to assist in
presenting the case for the death penalty, the prosecutor should not be heard to

5
As the majority notes (ante, at p. 14), we granted defendant‟s motion to
consider this documentary evidence.
6
The majority fails entirely to mention the nature and scope of the assistance
provided by law enforcement officers in Miami-Dade County and Calgary. Yet
defendant asserted in his motion for postconviction discovery that officers in both
locations interviewed witnesses at the Butte County prosecutor‟s request, and the
People do not challenge the accuracy of defendant‟s assertions.
7



claim that he lacks sufficient control to obtain the same information to assist
petitioner in presenting the case against the death penalty. Such information is
reasonably accessible to the prosecutor, and we have considered information to be
in the prosecution‟s possession for purposes of pretrial discovery if such
information is “ „reasonably accessible’ to the prosecution,” or “ „readily
available‟ to the prosecution and not accessible to the defense.” (In re Littlefield
(1993) 5 Cal.4th 122, 135, italics added.) Whatever information the defense is
entitled to have before trial, it is entitled to have after trial, as well.7 (§ 1054.9,
subd. (b).)
In this case, the record leaves no doubt that information from New York is
reasonably available to the Butte County prosecutor. The People conceded as
much at oral argument, and agreed that Butte County‟s lack of control over an out-
of-state agency is not determinative when “[t]he prosecutor actively engages
another agency and asks them to „please, go out and develop this evidence that I
need to put on my penalty phase.‟ ” Here, too, in the service of its holding, the
majority refuses to accept what is obvious to the People. For this reason as well, I
dissent.
WERDEGAR, J.
I CONCUR:
RUSHING, J.*

7
The majority states that “we need not decide definitively whether the out-
of-state agencies would have been considered part of the prosecution team under
pretrial discovery rules” because “[s]ection 1054.9 is a posttrial discovery
provision.” (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 18.) I find this statement mysterious and, thus,
potentially mischievous, because the statutory right to postconviction discovery
expressly extends to materials “to which the . . . defendant would have been
entitled at the time of trial.” (§ 1054.9, subd. (b).)
*
Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, assigned by the
Chief Justice pursuant to article VI, section 6 of the California Constitution.
8



See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.

Name of Opinion Barnett v. Superior Court
__________________________________________________________________________________

Unpublished Opinion


Original Appeal
Original Proceeding
Review Granted
XXX 164 Cal.App.4th 18
Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

Opinion No.

S165522
Date Filed: August 26, 2010
__________________________________________________________________________________

Court:

Superior
County: Butte
Judge: William R. Patrick

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attorneys for Appellant:

Quin Denvir and Daniel J. Broderick, Federal Defenders, Jennifer Mann, Assistant Federal Defender; and
Robert D. Bacon for Petitioner.

Michael P. Judge, Public Defender (Los Angeles). Albert J. Menaster and Robert Hill, Deputy Public
Defenders, for Los Angeles County Public Defender as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner.

Linda F. Robertson for California Public Defenders‟ Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Petitioner.

Kevin Bringuel, Joseph Trigilio and Cristina Bordé for Habeas Corpus Resource Center as Amicus Curiae
on behalf of Petitioner.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attorneys for Respondent:

No appearance for Respondent.

Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Robert R. Anderson and Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant
Attorneys General, Mary Jo Graves and Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorneys General, Ward A.
Campbell, Michael P. Farrell and Eric L. Christoffersen, Deputy Attorneys General, for Real Party in
Interest.

Kent S. Scheidegger and L. Douglas Pipes for Criminal Justice Legal Foundation as Amicus Curiae on
behalf of Real Party in Interest.

W. Scott Thorpe; Doug MacMaster, Deputy District Attorney (Contra Costa); and Laura Tanney, Deputy
District Attorney (Contra Costa) for California District Attorneys Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf
of Real Party in Interest.



Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):

Jennifer Mann
Assistant Federal Defender
801 I Street, Third Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 498-6666

Eric L. Christoffersen
Deputy Attorney General
1300 I Street, Suite 125
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
(916) 324-5251

This case, which is related to the automatic appeal in People v. Barnett (1998) 17 Cal.4th 1044 (see also In re Barnett (2003) 31 Cal.4th 466), presents the following issues: (1) Is an out-of-state law enforcement agency part of the prosecution team for purposes of the disclosure obligations under Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, if the agency's involvement is limited to providing the prosecution with previously existing records regarding a defendant's prior crimes? (2) Is a prisoner seeking post-conviction discovery under Penal Code section 1054.9 required to produce evidence indicating the actual existence of the discovery material he or she is requesting? (3) Is a prisoner seeking post-conviction discovery under section 1054.9 required to plead a theory indicating the materiality of the materials requested if the basis for discovery is the prosecutor's Brady obligation to disclose exculpatory materials? (4) Is section 1054.9 unconstitutional as an unauthorized legislative a

Opinion Information
Date:Citation:Docket Number:Category:Status:Cross Referenced Cases:
Thu, 08/26/201050 Cal. 4th 890, 237 P.3d 980, 114 Cal. Rptr. 3d 576S165522Review - Criminal Original (non-H.C.)submitted/opinion due

PEOPLE v. S.C. (PEARSON) (S171117)


Parties
1Barnett, Lee Max (Petitioner)
Represented by Robert D. Bacon
Attorney at Law
484 Lake Park Avenue, PMB 110
Oakland, CA

2Barnett, Lee Max (Petitioner)
Represented by Daniel Joseph Broderick
Office of the Federal Defender
801 "I" Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA

3Barnett, Lee Max (Petitioner)
Represented by Michael A. Willemsen
Attorney at Law
991 Elsinore Drive
Palo Alto, CA

4Barnett, Lee Max (Petitioner)
Represented by Jennifer Marie Corey Mann
Office of the Federal Defender
801 "I" Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA

5Superior Court of Butte County (Respondent)
1 Court Street
Oroville, CA 95965

6The People (Real Party in Interest)
Represented by Ward A. Campbell
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA

7The People (Real Party in Interest)
Represented by Michael L. Ramsey
Office of the District Attorney
25 County Center Drive
Oroville, CA

8The People (Real Party in Interest)
Represented by Eric L. Christoffersen
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA

9California District Attorneys Association (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Douglass Charles MacMaster
Office of the Contra Costa County District Attorney
900 Ward Street, 4th Floor
Martinez, CA

10California District Attorneys Association (Amicus curiae)
Represented by W. Scott Thorpe
California District Attorneys Association
921 Eleventh Street, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA

11California Public Defenders' Associstion (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Linda Frey Robertson
California Appellate Project
101 Second Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA

12Habeas Corpus Resource Center (Amicus curiae)
Represented by Kevin Michael Bringuel
Habeas Corpus Resource Center
303 Second Street, Suite 400 South
San Francisco, CA


Opinion Authors
OpinionJustice Ming W. Chin
ConcurChief Justice Ronald M. George, Justice Carol A. Corrigan, Justice Marvin R. Baxter
DissentJustice Carlos R. Moreno, Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar

Dockets
Jul 28 2008Petition for review filed
  Lee Max Barnett, petitioner by Jennifer M. Corey, Counsel
Jul 30 2008Received Court of Appeal record
 
Jul 29 20082nd petition for review filed
Real Party in Interest: The PeopleAttorney: Ward A. Campbell  
Aug 14 2008Request for depublication (petition for review pending)
  (Request for Partial Depublication) California District Attorneys Association (non-party) by Dep. District Atty Doug MacMaster, counsel
Aug 18 2008Answer to petition for review filed
  Lee Max Barnett, petitioner by Jennifer M. Corey, Assistant Federal Defender (Filed in Sacramento)
Sep 17 2008Petition for review granted (criminal case)
  The petitions for review are granted. On the court's own motion, review is also ordered on the issue of whether Penal Code section 1054.9 is unconstitutional as an invalid amendment of Proposition 115. We invite amicus briefing on this latter issue from interested organizations, including, but not limited to, the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, the Office of the State Public Defender, and the California District Attorneys Association. Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.520(a)(6), the People are deemed the petitioner in this court for purposes of briefing and argument. Kennard, J., was recused and did not participate. Votes: George, C.J., Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, Moreno, and Corrigan, JJ.
Sep 18 20082nd record request
 
Sep 19 2008Received Court of Appeal record
  (partial) C051311 - one box and one doghouse (box 2 of 3)
Sep 22 2008Received additional record
  one box (box 3 of three)
Sep 25 2008Received:
  Letter dated 9-24-2008 from Robert D. Bacon, counsel, advising he will continue to represent Mr. Barnett in this matter as Supreme Court appointed counsel in automatic appeal case S008113.
Oct 17 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
  The People, real party in interest by Ward A. Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General - Sacramento (Filed in Sacramento)
Oct 20 2008Received:
  Letter dated 10-18-2008 from Ward A. Campbell, Supervising Deputy A.G., re correction to Real Party's Opening Brief on the Merits. (Received in Sacramento)
Nov 4 2008Request for extension of time filed
  to and including December 17, 2008, to file Petitioner Barnett's answer brief on the merits by Jennifer M. Corey, Assistant Federal Defender (Filed in Sacramento) 11-7-2008 - Received corrected proof of service from counsel for petitioner.
Nov 7 2008Extension of time granted
  On application of petitioner and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file petitioner's answer brief on the merits is hereby extended to and including December 18, 2008.
Dec 17 2008Application to file over-length brief filed
  Lee Max Barnett, Petitioner Jennifer M. Corey, Attorney
Dec 19 2008Answer brief on the merits filed
  Lee Max Barnett, Petitioner Jennifer M. Corey, Attorney With permission
Dec 19 2008Request for judicial notice filed (granted case)
  Lee Max Barnett, Petitioner Jennifer M. Corey, Attorney
Jan 7 2009Request for extension of time filed
  by The People, Real Party in Interest requesting a 30-day extension to and including February 6, 2009 to file Real Party's in Interest reply brief on the merits. by Ward A. Campbell, counsel
Jan 9 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of real party in interest and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the reply brief on the merits is hereby extended to and including February 6, 2009.
Feb 2 2009Request for extension of time filed
  to and including 2-20-2009 to file the Real Party's reply brief on the merits by Ward Campbell, Supervising D.A.G.
Feb 5 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of real party in interest and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the reply brief on the merits is extended to and including February 20, 2009.
Feb 18 2009Request for extension of time filed
  by the Federal Defender for permission to file Petitioner Barnett's Reply to the Attorney General's Reply Brief on the Merits, to be filed twenty (20) days after RPI People's brief is filed. Request filed by Jennifer M. Corey, Assistant Federal Public Defender
Feb 20 2009Reply brief filed (case not yet fully briefed)
  The People, real party in interest/petitioner by Ward A. Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General (Filed in Sacramento)
Feb 25 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of the Federal Defender for permission to file Petitioner Barnett's Reply to the Attorney General's Reply Brief on the Merits, and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file Petitioner Barnett's Reply is extended to twenty (20) days after the Attorney General's Reply Brief on the Merits is filed.
Mar 12 2009Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
  Lee Max Barnett, petitioner by Jennifer M. Corey, Assistant Federal Defender (Filed in Sacramento)
Mar 24 2009Application to file amicus curiae brief filed
  California District Attorneys Association in support of real party in interest by W. Scott Thorpe, Chief Executive Officer
Mar 25 2009Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted
  The application of California District Attorneys Association for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of real party in interest is hereby granted. An answer thereto may be served and filed by any party within twenty days of the filing of the brief.
Mar 25 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
  California District Attorneys Association in support of real party in interest by W. Scott Thorpe, counsel
Mar 27 2009Request for extension of time filed
  By counsel for petitioner requesting a 20-day extension to and including May 4, 2009 to file petitioner's response to amicus curiae brief filed by the California District Attorneys Association. by Jennifer Corey, counsel
Apr 2 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of petitioner and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file petitioner's answer to amicus curiae brief filed by The California District Attorneys Association is hereby extended to and including May 4, 2009.
Apr 13 2009Application to file amicus curiae brief filed
  Habeas Corpus Resource Center by Kevin Bringuel, counsel
Apr 13 2009Application to file amicus curiae brief filed
  California Public Defenders' Association by Linda F. Robertson, California Appellate Project, counsel.
Apr 9 2009Request for extension of time filed
  to 5-14-2009, to file Real Party's Response to the Amicus Curiae Brief of California District Attorneys Association by Ward A. Campbell, Supervising D.A.G.
Apr 17 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of real party in interest and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file real party's response to brief of Amicus Curiae California District Attorneys Association is extended to and including May 14, 2009.
Apr 17 2009Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted
  The application of California Public Defenders' Association for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of Petitioner is hereby granted. An answer thereto may be served and filed by any party within 20 days of the filing of the brief.
Apr 17 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: California Public Defenders' AssocistionAttorney: Linda Frey Robertson  
Apr 17 2009Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted
  The application of Habeas Corpus Resource Center for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of Petitioner is hereby granted. An answer thereto may be served and filed by any party within 20 days of the filing of the brief.
Apr 17 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: California Public Defenders' AssocistionAttorney: Linda Frey Robertson  
Apr 17 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: Habeas Corpus Resource CenterAttorney: Kevin Michael Bringuel  
Apr 24 2009Request for extension of time filed
  to and including June 6, 2009 to file RPI's Response to the Amicus Curiae Briefs of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center and the California Public Defenders Association. Ward A. Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General.
May 1 2009Extension of time granted
  On application of Real Party in Interest and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the Real Party's Response to the Amicus Curiae Briefs of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center and the California Public Defenders Association is extended to and including June 6, 2009.
May 4 2009Response to amicus curiae brief filed
Petitioner: Barnett, Lee MaxAttorney: Jennifer Marie Corey Mann   To Amicus Curiae Brief of California District Attorneys Association
May 14 2009Response to amicus curiae brief filed
Real Party in Interest: The PeopleAttorney: Ward A. Campbell   to the Amicus Curiae California District Attorney's Association (Filed in Sacramento)
Jun 11 2009Response to amicus curiae brief filed
Real Party in Interest: The PeopleAttorney: Ward A. Campbell   Real Party in Interest's Combined Answer to Briefs of Amicus Curiae Habeas Corpus Resource Center and Amicus Curiae California Public Defenders' Association by Ward A. Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General [Filed with permission]
Mar 8 2010Received:
  Letter dated 3-4-2010 from Eric L. Christoffersen, Deputy Atorney General, advising that the case has ben reassigned from Ward A. Campbell to himself.
Mar 18 2010Justice pro tempore assigned
  Hon. Conrad Lee Rushing, CA 6 Kennard, J., recused.
May 5 2010Case ordered on calendar
  to be argued Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 9:00 a.m., in San Francisco
May 6 2010Received:
  Letter from Jennifer Mann, counsel for petitioner, regarding unavailability for Oral Argument.
May 6 2010Argument rescheduled
  to be argued Wednesday, June 2, 2010, at 9:00 a.m., in Los Angeles
May 10 2010Request for judicial notice granted
  Petitioner's "motion to take documentary evidence or for other appropriate relief," filed on December 19, 2008, which the People do not oppose, is granted. The court will consider the documents attached to that motion as part of the record in this case.
Jun 2 2010Cause argued and submitted
 
Aug 25 2010Notice of forthcoming opinion posted
  To be filed Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 10 a.m.

Briefs
Oct 17 2008Opening brief on the merits filed
 
Dec 19 2008Answer brief on the merits filed
 
Feb 20 2009Reply brief filed (case not yet fully briefed)
 
Mar 12 2009Reply brief filed (case fully briefed)
 
Mar 25 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
 
Apr 17 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: California Public Defenders' AssocistionAttorney: Linda Frey Robertson  
Apr 17 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: California Public Defenders' AssocistionAttorney: Linda Frey Robertson  
Apr 17 2009Amicus curiae brief filed
Amicus curiae: Habeas Corpus Resource CenterAttorney: Kevin Michael Bringuel  
May 4 2009Response to amicus curiae brief filed
Petitioner: Barnett, Lee MaxAttorney: Jennifer Marie Corey Mann  
May 14 2009Response to amicus curiae brief filed
Real Party in Interest: The PeopleAttorney: Ward A. Campbell  
Jun 11 2009Response to amicus curiae brief filed
Real Party in Interest: The PeopleAttorney: Ward A. Campbell  
Brief Downloads
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s165522_petitioners-petition-for-review.pdf (857319 bytes) - Petitioner's Petition for Review
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s165522_real-partys-in-interest-2nd-petition-for-review.pdf (1274773 bytes) - Real Party's in Interest 2nd Petition for Review
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s165522_petitioners-answer-to-petition-for-review.pdf (250215 bytes) - Petitioner's Answer to Petition for Review
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Opening Brief On Merits.pdf (2021500 bytes) - Opening brief for respondent (State)
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Barnett - Answer Brief 12-17-08.pdf (301254 bytes) - Answer brief for petitioner (Barnett)
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s165522_real-partys-in-interest-reply-brief-of-the-merits.pdf (342570 bytes) - People's Reply Brief on the Merits
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BARNETT_AMICUS.pdf (1351031 bytes) - Amicus brief of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
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CPDA Amicus 2.pdf (832500 bytes) - Amicus brief of the CA Public Defenders' Association
If you'd like to submit a brief document to be included for this opinion, please submit an e-mail to the SCOCAL website
Nov 29, 2010
Annotated by achiang

FACTS

Petitioner Lee Max Barnett was sentenced to death after having been convicted in 1988 of first degree murder, along with one count of assault with a firearm and several counts of kidnapping and robbery. At the penalty phase of the trial, the prosecution presented evidence of Barnett’s numerous other violent crimes and prior felony convictions, including crimes that had occurred between 1965 and 1988 in Canada, New York, Florida, Arizona, Massachusetts, and California.

In July 2004, Barnett filed a post-conviction discovery motion in the Butte County Superior Court pursuant to Penal Code section 1054.9 (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=01001-02...) seeking various materials, including materials now missing from the numbered discovery provided during trial and materials the prosecution allegedly failed to produce in response to discovery orders during trial. Although the prosecution responded to some of the petitioner’s discovery requests, there remained some disagreement between the parties as to what the petitioner was entitled to receive.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Barnett filed a petition for writ of mandate in the Court of Appeal seeking to compel the Superior Court to grant the 24 different discovery requests that had been denied. The Court of Appeal issued an alternative writ of mandate and granted Barnett’s petition in part and denied it in part. The Supreme Court of California granted review on specific issues. While the appeal was pending, however, the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief arguing that section 1054.9 was an invalid amendment of the statutory provisions of Proposition 115, enacted in 1990 (http://library.uchastings.edu/cgi-bin/starfinder/28097/calprop.txt).
In January 2008, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeal to adjudicate the validity of section 1054.9. The Court of Appeal affirmed section 1054.9’s validity, holding that:

(1) a law enforcement agency that provides a report relating to previous criminal conduct by a defendant charged with a capital offense can be deemed to have been “involved in the investigation or prosecution of the case” against the defendant, such that materials in the possession of that agency are subject to discovery under section 1054.9;

(2) in moving for discovery under section 1054.9, the defendant does not have to prove the actual existence of discovery materials in the possession of the prosecution and/or the relevant law enforcement authorities in order to obtain an order for discovery under the statute; and

(3) the defendant bears the burden of establishing the materiality of the evidence when seeking discovery under section 1054.9 on the theory that he would have been entitled to the requested materials at the time of trial under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

Both parties sought review in the Supreme Court, with the People challenging the first two of the holdings, and Barnett challenging the third. The Supreme Court granted both petitions for review, but refused to reconsider the statute’s validity, citing to People v. Pearson, 48 Cal.4th 546 (2010), which had firmly found the statute valid.

ISSUES

(1) What burden does the defendant have to show entitlement to discovery materials requested pursuant to Penal Code section 1054.9?

(2) Does Penal Code section 1054.9 extend to materials in possession of out-of-state law enforcement agencies?

HOLDINGS

(1) To be entitled to receive discovery beyond merely recovering items that the prosecutor had provided to defense counsel before trial, defendants must show that they have a reasonable basis to believe that the specific materials they seek actually exist. However, defendants need not make an additional showing of materiality, or the reasonable probability the evidence would have affected the outcome of the case had the evidence been disclosed.

(2) Section 1054.9 does not require the prosecution to provide discovery materials from out-of-state law enforcement agencies that the prosecution does not itself possess.

ANALYSIS (Chin, J.)

(1) In determining what sort of burden the defendant bears in showing his entitlement to discovery materials under section 1054.9, the Court looked to the legislative history behind section 1054.9, and found that the Legislature’s main purpose was to enable defendants to efficiently reconstruct defense attorneys’ trial files that might have become lost or destroyed after trial. In addition to facilitating the reconstruction of lost files, however, the statutory language provides for the discovery of materials “to which trial counsel was legally entitled,” which sweeps more broadly than mere file reconstruction. The Court relied on its earlier decision in In re Steele, 32 Cal.4th 683 (2004), to find that section 1054.9 provides only limited discovery, and does not allow “free-floating” discovery asking for virtually anything the prosecution possesses. Rather, any materials sought beyond file reconstruction must be “specific,” such as materials that the defendant can show the prosecution should have provided but did not at the time of trial because they came within the scope of a discovery order issued by the trial court or a statutory duty to provide discovery. Thus, the Court concluded that the Legislature’s clear intent to make section 1054.9 an efficient method of discovery, coupled with the need to limit “free-floating” discovery requests, requires that defendants who seek discovery beyond file reconstruction show a reasonable basis to believe that other specific materials actually exist. 



Furthermore, the Court rejected the Court of Appeal’s holding that a defendant bears the burden of establishing the materiality of the evidence sought in order to receive potentially exculpatory materials. The Supreme Court distinguished the defendant’s burden in establishing a violation of a prosecution’s duty to disclose exculpatory evidence and the defendant’s burden for merely receiving exculpatory evidence. Whereas a showing materiality is required to establish a violation of the prosecution’s duty to disclose exculpatory evidence, here, a defendant seeking to receive exculpatory evidence need not show that the evidence is material. In drawing this conclusion, the Court relied on the text of Penal Code section 1054.1(e), which requires the prosecution disclose “any exculpatory evidence,” not just material exculpatory evidence. Thus, the Court held that if a defendant can show that he has a reasonable basis for believing a specific item of exculpatory evidence exists, he is entitled to receive that evidence under section 1054.9 without making an additional showing of materiality.

(2) In determining whether section 1054.9 governs materials in possession of out-of-state law enforcement agencies that merely provided the prosecution with information or assistance to a case, the Court looked to its previous decision in Steele, which held that section 1054.9 extends to “materials in possession of the prosecution and law enforcement authorities.” Under Steele, the discovery obligation does not extend to all law enforcement authorities everywhere, but only to law enforcement authorities who were involved in the investigation or prosecution of the case.



Steele analogized section 1054.9’s discovery provisions to the prosecution’s duty to provide material exculpatory evidence, or what is sometimes called “Brady material” pursuant the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). Although the prosecution’s duty to provide Brady material extends to materials the prosecutor personally possesses as well as materials others possess, the duty does not extent to all law enforcement agencies that might possess relevant evidence, but only to those agencies that were part of the prosecution team. In determining whether an agency was part of the prosecution team for Brady purposes, federal courts have considered three factors: (1) whether the party with knowledge of the information was acting on the government’s “behalf” or is under its “control”; (2) the extent to which the state and federal governments were part of a “team,” are participating in “joint investigation” or are sharing resources; and (3) whether the entity charged with constructive possession has “ready access” to the evidence.”

Adopting the Brady factors to analyze whether the out-of-state law enforcement agencies were part of the prosecution team for discovery purposes under section 1054.9, the Court found that while the out-of-state agencies had acted on the prosecution’s behalf by providing certain limited assistance on request, none of them were under the control of any California authorities. Moreover, the out-of-state agencies were not part of a team participating in a joint investigation or sharing resources, but merely providing specific assistance. With respect to whether the California prosecution had ready access to the evidence, the court concluded that if the California prosecutors had actually received information gathered by the out-of-state agencies on their behalf, then that information would be discoverable under section 1054.9. However, if the California prosecutors did not receive the information, then it would not be subject to discovery. Thus, the Court rejected the Court of Appeal’s holding that the California prosecution had constructive possession of information possessed by out-of-state agencies, and instead concluded that the prosecution is not required to provide discovery of materials from the out-of-state law enforcement agencies that the prosecution does not itself possess.

DISPOSITION

The judgment of the Court of Appeal was reversed and the case was remanded back to the trial court.

Concurrence – George, C.J., Baxter, J., and Corrigan, J.

Concurring in part, dissenting in part – Moreno, J.
Justice Moreno concurred with the majority’s holding that a defendant seeking post-conviction discovery must show a reasonable basis to believe that those items actually exist, but disagreed that section 1054.9 does not allow discovery of materials in the possession of out-of-state law enforcement agencies under the circumstances of this case.

Dissent – Werdegar, J., Rushing, J.
Justice Werdegar disagreed with the majority’s holdings, and found instead that because the Legislature has intended to provide criminal defendants with greater procedural protections in section 1054.9, the Court should not stand in the way of such protections. Justice Werdegar found the threshold burden imposed on the defendant by the majority’s holding would have the pernicious effect of shielding prosecutors from both negligent and intentional failures to produce relevant evidence, and that an evidentiary presumption that the prosecution’s official duty has been performed runs contrary to legislative intent behind section 1054.9.

Justice Werdegar further disagreed with the majority’s conclusion that out-of-state law enforcement agencies are not under the prosecutor’s control, and therefore Barnett is not entitled to any materials prepared by out-of-state law enforcement agencies at the request of the Butte County prosecutor’s office. Justice Werdegar contends that because the New York State Police did act on behalf of the Butte County prosecutor in gathering information in connection with the penalty phase of the investigation, there should be no doubt that the information from the New York agency is reasonably available to the Butte County prosecutor. Thus, the prosecution should be responsible for producing any information generated by the New York agency in discovery.

Justice Rushing concurred with the dissent.

TAGS

discovery, post-conviction discovery, discovery of undisclosed materials, scope of post-conviction discovery, Penal Code § 1054.9, defendant’s burden of proof in post-conviction discovery, post-trial file reconstruction, death penalty, capital punishment, state habeas, state habeas discovery

RELATED/CITED CASES

Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9550433126269674519&hl=en&as...

In re Steele, 32 Cal.4th 682 (2004)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=360896241321925573&q=In+re+S...

People v. Pearson, 48 Cal.4th 564 (2010)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16082162522167638293&q=Peopl...

People v. Maury, 145 Cal.App.4th 473 (2006)
http://login.findlaw.com/scripts/callaw?dest=ca/caapp4th/145/473.html

In re Brown, 17 Cal.4th 873 (1998)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=83250451378121118&q=In+re+Br...

U.S. v. Reyeros, 537 F.3d 270 (3d Cir. 2008)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16943476310268618527&q=U.S.+...

Moon v. Head, 285 F.3d 1301 (11th Cir. 2002)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11613279322068372208&q=Moon+...

U.S. v. Kern, 12 F.3d 122 (8th Cir. 1993)
http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=6955283373279114888&q=U.S.+v...

Annotation by Angel Chiang