People v. Sekhon, 070318 SUPAD, APP1700214

Docket Nº:APP1700214, APP1700215, APP1700216, APP1800074, APP1800075, APP1800077, APP1800082, APP1800089
Opinion Judge:CABRERA, Acting P. J.
Party Name:THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JASPREET SEKHON Defendant and Appellant, [And seven other cases.[*]]
Attorney:Shaffer Cormell, for Defendants and Appellants. Michael A. Hestrin, Deputy District Attorney, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Judge Panel:I CONCUR, WILLIAMS, J. APALOO, J. , I dissent
Case Date:July 03, 2018
Court:Superior Court of California
 
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THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,

v.

JASPREET SEKHON Defendant and Appellant, [And seven other cases. [*] ]

APP1700214, APP1700215, APP1700216, APP1800074, APP1800075, APP1800077, APP1800082, APP1800089

Superior Court of California, Appellate Division, Riverside

July 3, 2018

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Riverside County Trial Court: DK37757JS, B.J. Bjork, Judge. (Retired judge of the Riverside Sup. Ct. assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to art. VI, § 6 of the Cal. Const.); Kristi Hester, Commissioner. Affirmed.

Shaffer Cormell, for Defendants and Appellants.

Michael A. Hestrin, Deputy District Attorney, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

CABRERA, Acting P. J. [*]

DISCUSSION

In this consolidated appeal, Appellants were cited for various violations of the California Vehicle Code. Prior to each court trial, Appellants objected to the trial judge not being physically present and the use of video conferencing equipment to conduct the trials. The trial court in each case overruled Appellants' objection and permitted the trial to proceed. After testimony and oral arguments, the trial courts found Appellants guilty. Appellants filed timely notices of appeal.

We have reviewed Appellants' opening briefs and the official transcripts of the electronic recordings. In this case of first impression, we address whether a trial court's use of video conferencing equipment in an infraction trial is permissible over a defendant's objection.

The use of video conferencing and other electronic communication technology has been found to be permissible in certain circumstances and for certain proceedings in both criminal and civil cases. In general, the use of such technology is subject to constitutional considerations, such as the right of a defendant to confront witnesses against him, and proper security and reliability of the technology with guidelines for the use established by rules of court. One of the areas in which the use of remote technology faces the highest scrutiny are when a proceeding involves the presentation of evidence and witnesses to be cross-examined. This is because one of the most basic of the rights guaranteed by the Confrontation Clause is the accused's right to be present in the courtroom at every stage of his trial. (Illinois v. Allen (1970) 397 U.S. 337, 338.)

It is beyond dispute that "Courts have inherent power to adopt any suitable method of practice, both in ordinary actions and special proceedings, if the procedure is not specified by statute or by rules adopted by the Judicial Council. [Citation.]" (Citizens Utilities Co. v. Superior Court (1963) 59 Cal.2d 805, 812-813.) That inherent power entitles trial courts to exercise reasonable control over all proceedings connected with pending litigation in order to insure the orderly administration of justice. (See Hays v. Superior Court (1940) 16 Cal.2d 260, 264-265.) Thus, courts are permitted to formulate rules of procedure where justice demands it. (Adamson v. Superior Court (1980) 113 Cal.App.3d 50, 509.) The Legislature has also recognized the authority of courts to manage their proceedings and to adopt suitable methods of practice. (See Code Civ. Proc., §§ 128, 187; Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois, Inc. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 953, 967.) It is also well established that courts have fundamental inherent equity, supervisory, and administrative powers, as well as inherent power to control litigation before them. (Coffle v. Superior Court (1992) 3 Cal.App.4th 1367, 1377.) In addition to their inherent equitable power derived from the historic power of equity courts, all courts have inherent supervisory or administrative powers which enable them to carry out their duties, and which exist apart from any statutory authority. (Bauguess v. Paine (1978) 22 Cal.3d...

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