People v. Guevara

Decision Date29 July 2004
Docket NumberNo. B163177.,B163177.
Citation16 Cal.Rptr.3d 738,121 Cal.App.4th 17
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Linda Luz GUEVARA, Defendant and Appellant.

ALDRICH, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant and appellant Linda Luz Guevara was twice elected to the Huntington Park City Council even though she resided in Downey. In two different sets of election papers, she misrepresented where she lived and stated that she resided in Huntington Park. Appellant was convicted by jury of two counts of felony perjury by declaration (Pen.Code, § 118) and two counts of filing a false nomination paper or declaration of candidacy (Elec. Code, § 18203). Appellant appealed from the judgment.

Appellant contends: (1) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the statute of limitations for the offense of filing a false nomination paper (Elec.Code, § 18203) was four years after discovery; (2) two of the convictions must be reversed because the statute of limitations had run prior to the commencement of the prosecution; (3) the trial court prejudicially erred in limiting cross-examination of a prosecution witness; and (4) the prosecution's failure to disclose a document in discovery (Pen.Code, § 1054.1) warranted a mistrial.

In the published portions of this opinion (pts. I, II, III.A, and IV) we address the first contention, which we conclude is unpersuasive. We hold that the statute of limitations for the offense of filing a false nomination paper (Elec.Code, § 18203) is four years after discovery. (Pen.Code, §§ 801.5, 803, subd. (c).) In the unpublished portions of this opinion (pts. III.B, III.C, and III.D), we conclude that the other contentions are unpersuasive. We affirm.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A. Initial facts.

Appellant met Cipriano Terrazas (Terrazas) in 1990. They lived together prior to marrying in December 1996. Appellant and Terrazas ran a business assisting landlords with evictions and preparing tax filings. During the pertinent years, the business was located on Florence Avenue in Huntington Park.

Alex, appellant's son from her first marriage, began attending school in the Downey Unified School District in 1990, when he was in kindergarten. Since the sixth grade, Alex participated in an educational program offered to a limited number of students. Residency of appellant, as Alex's parent and legal guardian, determined if Alex could participate in the program. Alex's school records contained a number of documents that had been submitted to the school district to verify appellant's residency and Alex's eligibility to attend Downey schools.

The documents contained in Alex's school file, other documents and testimony of uninterested third persons (such as landlords and neighbors), established that appellant did not reside in Huntington Park from 1990 through the time of trial. Rather, during this time, appellant resided on the following streets in Downey or the City of Lakewood:

• prior to 1991, Parrot Avenue, Downey;

June 19911994, Belshire Avenue, Lakewood;

19941995, Fifth Street, Downey;

19961998, Paramount Boulevard, Downey; and

1998 — time of trial, Fostoria Street, Downey.

Appellant's mother, Dolores Silva (Silva), lived with her adult son (Louis) in a leased home on Walnut Street in Huntington Park. The lease was executed on December 10, 1996. The home had three bedrooms. Silva used one, Louis used one, and the third was used as a computer room/office.

One of appellant's clients owned a multiple-unit complex on 61st Street in Huntington Park.

B. The elections and the false documents.
1. Election procedures in Huntington Park.

To run for the Huntington Park City Council, a person had to be domiciled and registered to vote in Huntington Park. A potential candidate was required to complete numerous documents, including a candidate's statement. A packet of materials (a candidate's kit) was given to all potential candidates. It referred to the various Government and Election Codes that discussed the law of residency and domicile.

To become a candidate for the Huntington Park City Council, a person had to obtain 20 qualifying signatures on a petition. The "circulator" was the person who circulated the nominating petition. The circulator had to be a resident of, and registered to vote in, Huntington Park. The circulator could be the candidate or another person. A declaration of circulator was on the back of the nominating petition. In the declaration of circulator, the circulator provided his or her address and signed the document under penalty of perjury, verifying that the circulator was a resident of Huntington Park. Underneath the declaration of circulator, but in a separate section on the same page, was an affidavit of nominee and oath or affirmation of allegiance. In the affidavit of nominee, the candidate delineated the office for which he or she was a candidate and how his or her name was to appear on the ballot. The nominee signed this section of the document swearing to defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of California and to faithfully discharge the duties about which he or she was about to enter. The nominee's signature was then notarized. Underneath the notary's signature, the candidate provided his or her telephone number and address, thereby stating that he or she resided in Huntington Park. Although a candidate could own two homes, e.g., a home in Huntington Park and a mountain retreat in another city, the candidate had to be domiciled and registered to vote in Huntington Park. The focus was on where the person actually resided.

Marilyn Boyett (Boyett) was the elected city clerk. She met with all candidates each time they ran for office whether they were first time candidates or incumbents. Boyett provided each candidate with a candidate's kit, explained the documents, and discussed the election procedures and requirements including the residence requirements. Boyett asked each candidate if he or she was a resident and registered voter of Huntington Park. If the candidate claimed to be a resident of Huntington Park, and a list provided by the county registrar of voters verified that information, Boyett accepted that the candidate was a Huntington Park resident.

Appellant ran in three elections. Each time, Boyett met with appellant and explained the election procedures, requirements, and nomination papers.

2. The March 1997 election.

Appellant ran for the Huntington Park City Council in the March 4, 1997, election. In her election documents, appellant stated her address was on Walnut Street in Huntington Park. Someone else served as the circulator of appellant's nominating petition. Appellant did not win the March 1997, election.

3. The June 1997, election and the false March 1997, document (counts 1 and 3).

Two days after losing the March 1997, election, appellant obtained papers to run for the Huntington Park City Council in a June 3, 1997, Special Election being held to replace a deceased council member. Boyett met with appellant and explained the paperwork, requirements, procedures, and the residency requirements. Appellant acted as her own circulator.

In the declaration of circulator dated March 6, 1997, appellant stated under penalty of perjury that she resided in Huntington Park. Underneath, in the affidavit of nominee section (dated March 7, 1997), appellant signed her name, she swore allegiance, and she stated that she resided on East Florence Avenue in Huntington Park. Appellant's signature was notarized. Appellant made the statements in the affidavit of nominee even though she resided in Downey.

Appellant won the special election for a two-year term.

4. The March 1999 election and the false December 1998 document (counts 2 and 4).

Appellant ran for reelection in the March 2, 1999, election. Boyett again discussed with appellant the residency requirements. Appellant served as her own circulator. The declaration of circulator and the affidavit of nominee were both dated December 4, 1998. In the declaration of circulator, appellant stated under penalty of perjury that she resided in Huntington Park. In the affidavit of nominee, she had her signature notarized, swore allegiance, and stated that she lived on Walnut Street in Huntington Park. Appellant made these statements even though she resided in Downey. Appellant won the election.

C. Appellant's defense.

Appellant claimed she had not lied when she signed the March 1997, and December 1998, documents because at the time each document was signed she resided in Huntington Park. Appellant's defense was the following. Because she had been informed that she had to reside in Huntington Park to be on its City Council, she rented a room from her client on 61st Street in Huntington Park. Thereafter, she moved in with her mother and brother on Walnut Street in Huntington Park. When she was at her home on Walnut Street, she slept on an inflatable mattress. She did this because of her bad back. She spent weekdays in Huntington Park and joined her husband (Terrazas) and Alex in Downey on weekends. She argued this arrangement was not illegal because a Huntington Park elected official could have two homes.

According to appellant, this plan permitted her to be on the Huntington Park City Council and enabled Alex to be enrolled in Downey schools.1

D. Discovery of the crimes and procedure.

There were two separate investigations relating to whether appellant resided in Huntington Park. The second investigation was opened on March 5, 2001. It led to...

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