Hobbs v. Municipal Court

Decision Date22 August 1991
Docket NumberNo. D013897,D013897
Citation284 Cal.Rptr. 655,233 Cal.App.3d 670
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesTimothy C. HOBBS, Petitioner, v. The MUNICIPAL COURT for the San Diego Judicial District of San Diego County, Respondent. The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.

Francis J. Bardsley, Public Defender, Richard P. Siref and Douglas K. Rhodes, Deputy Public Defenders, for petitioner.

Wilbur F. Littlefield, Public Defender of Los Angeles County, Laurence M. Sarnoff and Albert J. Menaster, Deputy Public Defenders, amicus curiae, for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

Edwin L. Miller, Jr., Dist. Atty., Thomas F. McArdle and Craig E. Fisher, Deputy District Attys., for real party in interest.

TODD, Associate Justice.

Timothy C. Hobbs, a misdemeanant defendant, has petitioned for a peremptory writ of mandate by which he seeks rescission of an order authorizing prosecutorial discovery that was made subsequent to the passage of Proposition 115. In his points and authorities, Hobbs attacks the discovery provisions of Proposition 115, claiming they violate the California and federal constitutional guarantees of the right against self-incrimination as well as the federal constitutional rights of due process of law and the assistance of counsel. Hobbs also contends the discovery provisions of Proposition 115 violate the work product doctrine. Finally, Hobbs argues the discovery provisions of Proposition 115 should not apply in misdemeanor cases. We ordered respondent Municipal Court to show cause why the relief should not be granted. 1


Hobbs was charged in a felony complaint filed in San Diego Municipal Court with residential burglary (PEN.CODE, § 459/460)2. At his October 24, 1990, arraignment on the felony complaint, the District Attorney made an informal request for discovery pursuant to section 1054.5, subdivision (b). On November 6, 1990, at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing, the municipal court, per The Honorable Robert C. Coates, reduced the burglary charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. (See § 17, subd. (b); Esteybar v. Municipal Court (1971) 5 Cal.3d 119, 95 Cal.Rptr. 524, 485 P.2d 1140.) On November 27, 1990, Hobbs was arraigned in San Diego Municipal Court on the misdemeanor burglary count. On December 27, 1990, the District Attorney filed a notice of and motion for discovery, and order to show cause re contempt. On January 3, 1991, after hearing, The Honorable Charles G. Rogers granted the prosecution's discovery motion, ordering Hobbs to disclose those items listed under section 1054.3. On January 7, 1991, Hobbs filed a petition for writ of mandate in San Diego Superior Court. On January 23, 1991, the superior court, per The Honorable Charles Hayes, denied the petition and remanded the matter to municipal court with directions to modify the discovery order to include reciprocal provisions concerning rebuttal evidence. In its written opinion, the superior court held section 1054.3 was constitutional and applicable to misdemeanors. On February 6, 1991, Judge Rogers issued an amended discovery order. Hobbs filed his petition with this court on February 15, 1991.


On June 5, 1990, the voters enacted Proposition 115, entitled by its framers as the "Crime Victims Justice Reform Act." The initiative changed criminal law in several areas, including discovery. This case deals solely with the discovery provisions of Proposition 115 that mandate reciprocal discovery and authorize prosecutorial discovery. As is not uncommon with initiatives, Proposition 115 did not write on a clean slate. We find it instructive, therefore, to begin with a brief history of the right of the prosecution to discovery in California.

The first case to authorize discovery directed at the defense was Jones v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 56, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919, where the defendant sought a continuance on the day set for trial, and, as a condition of granting his request, the trial court ordered the defense to provide limited discovery. In an opinion by Chief Justice Traynor, our Supreme Court held the privilege against self-incrimination did not shield the defendant from being forced to produce the names and identities of witnesses who would be used to prove the defendant's late proffered defense of impotency in a rape case. The court in Jones flatly declared that discovery "should not be a one-way street." (Id. at p. 60, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919.)

The decision in Jones, supra, 58 Cal.2d 56, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919, led to routine discovery orders directed at defendants until the Supreme Court adopted a more restrictive approach in Prudhomme v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 320, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673. In Prudhomme, the defendant objected to a pretrial discovery order compelling her attorney to disclose to the prosecution the names, addresses and expected testimony of defense witnesses to be called at her murder trial. The Supreme Court limited its earlier holding in Jones to its facts and struck down the order before it because the disclosure of the requested information "conceivably might lighten the prosecution's burden of proving its case in chief." (Id. at p. 326, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673.) The court in Prudhomme also articulated a "link in a chain" test:

"[T]he privilege forbids compelled disclosures which could serve as a 'link in a chain' of evidence tending to establish guilt of a criminal offense; in ruling upon a claim of privilege, the trial court must find that it clearly appears from a consideration of all the circumstances in the case that an answer to the challenged [request] cannot possibly have a tendency to incriminate the witness." (Ibid.)

Prudhomme explicitly relied at least in part on an analysis of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and federal cases. (Id. at pp. 323-326, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673.) However, in later cases, the California Supreme Court revisited Prudhomme and declared that Prudhomme had in fact been premised on the privilege against self-incrimination now contained in article I, section 15 of the California Constitution. (See Reynolds v. Superior Court (1974) 12 Cal.3d 834, 843, 117 Cal.Rptr. 437, 528 P.2d 45 ["[I]t cannot be gainsaid that Prudhomme put this court on record as being considerably more solicitous of the privilege against self-incrimination than federal law currently requires."] and Allen v. Superior Court (1976) 18 Cal.3d 520, 524-525, 134 Cal.Rptr. 774, 557 P.2d 65 [noting that the trend of federal decisions was not "wholly consistent" with the Prudhomme interpretation of the privilege against self incrimination].) 3

Meanwhile, an opposite trend was about to emerge under federal law. Three months after Prudhomme, supra, 2 Cal.3d 320, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673 was filed, the United States Supreme Court filed its decision in Williams v. Florida (1970) 399 U.S. 78, 90 S.Ct. 1893, 26 L.Ed.2d 446, in which it upheld Florida's notice-of-alibi statute. The statute required a criminal defendant to give notice to the prosecution if the defendant intended to claim an alibi and to furnish the prosecution with information as to the alibi, including the names and addresses of alibi witnesses the defense intended to call. The court in Williams determined that no violation of a defendant's Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination would result, as the statute merely accelerated the disclosure of evidence that the defendant would introduce at trial. (Id. at p. 85, 90 S.Ct. at p. 1898.) In Wardius v. Oregon (1973) 412 U.S. 470, 93 S.Ct. 2208, 37 L.Ed.2d 82, the United States Supreme Court found no violation of the Fifth Amendment privilege in Oregon's notice-of-alibi statute, but held that it violated the defendant's due process rights because it did not provide for reciprocal discovery for the defense. (Id. at pp. 475-476, 93 S.Ct. at pp. 2212-2213.) In United States v. Nobles (1975) 422 U.S. 225, 95 S.Ct. 2160, 45 L.Ed.2d 141, the defense proposed to call its investigator to challenge the validity of the identification by the prosecution's eyewitnesses. The trial court would not allow the investigator to testify unless the defense turned over his written report detailing his interviews with the witnesses for an in camera review. The Supreme Court upheld the trial court, concluding "the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, being personal to the defendant, does not extend to the testimony or statements of third parties called as witnesses at trial." (Id. at p. 234, 95 S.Ct. at p. 2168.)

However, in People v. Collie (1981) 30 Cal.3d 43, 48, 177 Cal.Rptr. 458, 634 P.2d 534, the California Supreme Court held a trial court's order that the defense turn over notes prepared by its investigator was improper and declared "we disapprove of any compelled production of defense evidence absent explicit legislative authorization."

In 1982, the California Legislature enacted a statute authorizing courts to order disclosure of statements of defense witnesses after the witnesses had testified during trial. 4 In In re Misener (1985) 38 Cal.3d 543, 551-558, 213 Cal.Rptr. 569, 698 P.2d 637, the California Supreme Court held the statute was unconstitutional as violative of California's self-incrimination privilege. In essence, the Misener court held: "The privilege forbids compelled disclosures from the defendant that will aid the prosecution." (Id. at p. 558, 213 Cal.Rptr. 569, 698 P.2d 637.)

Basically, that was the state of the law of prosecutorial discovery when Proposition 115 was drafted. With respect to discovery, Proposition 115, among other things, specifically added a constitutional provision calling for "reciprocal" discovery in criminal cases. 5 The initiative also added a new chapter to the Penal Code (§ 1054 et seq.), outlining the materials and information that the prosecution and defense must...

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