Meeks v. Superior Court (People)

Decision Date24 May 1991
Docket NumberNo. C009744,C009744
Citation230 Cal.App.3d 698,281 Cal.Rptr. 796
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesPreviously published at 230 Cal.App.3d 698 230 Cal.App.3d 698 Delbert MEEKS, Petitioner, v. SUPERIOR COURT of Sacramento County, Respondent, The PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.

Farris N. Salamy, Sacramento County Public Defender, Burton R. Loehr, Supervising Asst. Public Defender, Vincent L. Weis, and Karen M. Sly, Asst. Public Defenders, for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

John K. Van de Kamp and Daniel E. Lungren, Attys. Gen., Richard B. Iglehart, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Arnold O. Overoye, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., Michael J. Weinberger, Supervising Deputy Atty. Gen., Steve White, Sacramento County Dist. Atty., and Alfonso M. Cedillo, Deputy Dist. Atty., for real party in interest.

PUGLIA, Presiding Justice.

In this proceeding we consider a challenge to the "reciprocal discovery" provisions of Proposition 115, an initiative measure adopted at the June 5, 1990, Primary Election. The initiative measure, entitled the "Crime Victims Justice Reform Act" (Prop. 115, § 1, subd. (d)), enacts "comprehensive reforms ... needed in order to restore balance and fairness to our criminal justice system." (Id. subd. (a).)

At issue here is that part of Proposition 115 which, through statutory and constitutional changes, establishes a procedure for reciprocal discovery in criminal actions. Proposition 115 adds to article I of the state Constitution section 30, subdivision (c) of which provides "discovery in criminal cases shall be reciprocal in nature" as prescribed by statute. Proposition 115 also adds a chapter to the Penal Code (§ 1054 et seq.) which details the materials and information the prosecution and defense must jointly disclose, such as the names, addresses and statements of intended witnesses.

Petitioner Delbert Meeks (defendant) was charged by information in August 1990 with robbery (Pen.Code, § 211; hereafter all statutory references to an undesignated code are to the Penal Code). Thereafter, the People moved in respondent court for discovery seeking, inter alia, the names and addresses, as well as relevant written and recorded statements, of any witnesses defendant intended to call at trial. (See § 1054.3, subds. (a), (b).) Defendant opposed the motion, asserting the requirement that he provide such discovery violates both the state and federal constitutions. Following hearing and argument, respondent court granted the People's motion for discovery.

Defendant petitions this court for a writ of prohibition to restrain enforcement of respondent court's order. We issued an alternative writ and stayed the trial in order to consider defendant's numerous contentions challenging the reciprocal discovery scheme as enacted by Proposition 115. Defendant contends the scheme (1) violates the state constitutional privilege against self-incrimination as interpreted by the California Supreme Court; (2) deprives him of due process of law; (3) and is unconstitutional on its face in that the requirement to disclose names, addresses and statements of intended witnesses violates (a) the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination; (b) the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel; and (c) the work-product rule and attorney-client privilege.

We shall reject each of defendant's contentions. Decisional authority holding compelled discovery from a criminal defendant violative of the state Constitution has been supplanted by Proposition 115 and is no longer controlling. Moreover, the statutory scheme for reciprocal discovery is not unconstitutional on its face and defendant raises no fact-specific claim with regard to the ordered discovery. Accordingly, we shall deny the writ.


The first California decision to authorize discovery from a criminal defendant was Jones v. Superior Court (1962) 58 Cal.2d 56, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919. On the date set for a rape trial, Jones moved for a continuance supported by an affidavit in which he claimed he was impotent and needed time to gather medical evidence. The People moved for discovery requesting, inter alia, the names and reports of all expert witnesses whom the defense intended to call at trial. The trial court granted the motion and defendant sought a writ of prohibition. (Id. at pp. 57-58, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919.)

Writing for the majority, Justice Traynor recognized "[d]iscovery is designed to ascertain the truth," the denial of reciprocal discovery rights to the prosecution "would unduly shift to the defendant's side a balance of advantages already heavily weighed in [defendant's] favor ...," and pretrial discovery rights bestowed on both the prosecution and the defense "promote the orderly ascertainment of the truth." (58 Cal.2d at pp. 58-60, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919.) The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's order to the extent it granted pretrial discovery of identities and reports of expert witnesses defendant intended to produce at trial. (Id. at pp. 61-62, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919.)

The Jones court rejected defendant's claims the discovery order violated his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination and the attorney-client privilege: "Insofar as the trial court's order herein requires petitioner to reveal the names and addresses of witnesses he intends to call and to produce reports and X-rays he intends to introduce in evidence ... it does not violate the privilege against self-incrimination. Nor to this extent does it violate the attorney-client privilege. It simply requires petitioner to disclose information that he will shortly reveal anyway. Such information is discoverable." (Id. at pp. 60-62, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919.)

Jones is significant for two reasons. First, the "accelerated disclosure" rationale in Jones was later adopted by the United States Supreme Court as a basis for upholding a Florida statute allowing the prosecution pretrial discovery from the defense. Second, Jones was one of the earliest decisions recognizing criminal discovery should be reciprocal, i.e., more than a "one-way street." (Jones, supra, 58 Cal.2d at p. 60, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919.) 1

Following Jones, numerous California cases established a broad principle of reciprocity in criminal discovery, leading to routine and wide-ranging discovery orders directed to defendants. (E.g., People v. Pike (1969) 71 Cal.2d 595, 605, 78 Cal.Rptr. 672, 455 P.2d 776; Ruiz v. Superior Court (1969) 275 Cal.App.2d 633, 634-635, 80 Cal.Rptr. 523; McGuire v. Superior Court (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 583, 594, 79 Cal.Rptr. 155; People v. Dugas (1966) 242 Cal.App.2d 244, 51 Cal.Rptr. 478; all of which were disapproved in Prudhomme v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 320, 327, fn. 11, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673.) In Pike, supra, the court affirmed a discovery order which required defense disclosure of names, addresses, and "expected testimony" of defense witnesses. (71 Cal.2d at p. 605, 78 Cal.Rptr. 672, 455 P.2d 776.)

The first serious retrenchment in the People's right to discovery occurred in Prudhomme v. Superior Court, supra, 2 Cal.3d 320, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673. The discovery order in Prudhomme, like that in Pike, required that defendant disclose the names, addresses and "expected testimony" of those witnesses defendant intended to call at her murder trial. Examining "more thoroughly the policies involved" (In re Misener (1985) 38 Cal.3d 543, 548, 213 Cal.Rptr. 569, 698 P.2d 637), and recognizing a tension between truth-seeking goals and constitutional fairness to criminal defendants, the Prudhomme court held the order was overbroad and violative of the petitioner's constitutional right against self-incrimination. (2 Cal.3d at pp. 325-326, 85 Cal.Rptr. 129, 466 P.2d 673.)

The Prudhomme court articulated a new test for prosecutorial discovery: "[T]he principal element in determining whether a particular demand for discovery should be allowed is not simply whether the information sought pertains to an 'affirmative defense,' or whether defendant intends to introduce or rely upon the evidence at trial, but whether disclosure thereof 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 further held the privilege against self-incrimination forbids any compelled disclosure which could serve as a " 'link in a chain' " of evidence tending to establish guilt of a criminal offense. (Ibid.) Applying this test, the Prudhomme court could not say it "clearly appeared" prosecutorial discovery of the names, addresses, and expected testimony of defense witnesses could not "possibly intend to incriminate" the defendant. (Ibid.) 2

At about the same time the California Supreme Court was reining in the People's right to discovery, the United States Supreme Court was expanding that right. Three months after Prudhomme, the United States Supreme Court decided Williams v. Florida (1970) 399 U.S. 78, 90 S.Ct. 1893, 26 L.Ed.2d 446. Williams held a Florida statute requiring that defendant give pretrial notice of an alibi defense, including the names and addresses of alibi witnesses, did not violate defendant's Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Adopting an "accelerated disclosure" analysis similar to that employed in Jones v. Superior Court, supra, 58 Cal.2d 56, 22 Cal.Rptr. 879, 372 P.2d 919, the Court concluded the defendant was only being asked to disclose evidence he intended to produce at trial: "In the case before us, the notice-of-alibi rule by itself in no way affected petitioner's crucial decision to call alibi witnesses or added to the legitimate pressures leading to that course of action. At most, the rule only compelled petitioner to accelerate the timing of his disclosure, forcing him to divulge at an earlier date information...

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5 cases
  • Hobbs v. Municipal Court
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • August 22, 1991
    ...the Prudhomme line of cases--which we conclude was one of the purposes behind the new provision. 10 (Accord see Meeks, supra, 230 Cal.App.3d at p. 713, 281 Cal.Rptr. 796.) Such a result by constitutional amendment is clearly within the authority of the electorate. A contrary conclusion on o......
  • People v. Superior Court (Broderick), D014253
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 21, 1991
    ...Proposition 115, the "Crime Victims Justice Reform Act," to have abrogated Prudhomme and its progeny in Meeks v. Superior Court (1991) --- Cal.App.3d ---, --- - ---, 281 Cal.Rptr. 796. Meeks v. Superior Court is not final and is not cited as precedent but simply to provide a summary of the ......
  • The People v. Hall
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • July 16, 2010
    ...166 Cal.App.3d 514 (Green) and People v. Dugas (1966) 242 Cal.App.2d 244 (Dugas) (disapproved on other grounds in Meeks v. Superior Court (1991) 230 Cal.App.3d 698), is misplaced. In Green, the court found that substantial evidence supported the trial court's determination that a burglary a......
  • Meeks v. Superior Court (People)
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • October 31, 1991
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