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District Attorney of Los Angeles County David Walgren
2 Deborah Brazil
3 Deputy District Attorneys MAJOR CRIMES DIVISION
4 210 W. TEMPLE STREET 17-1130 LOS ANGELES, CA 90012
5 (213) 974-3992
APR 1 5 2011
John A. lill:ll I\a, ExeoUI.!."~W¥tllcer/Clerk
By f'· Deputy
6 Attorney for Plaintiff
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF lOS ANGELES
) Case No.: SA073164 )
) EVIDENTIARY ISSUES )
PEOPLE OF TH E STATE OF 9 CALIFORNIA,
12 CONRAD ROBERT MURRAY,
16 TO: The Honorable Michael Pastor and defense counsel.
17 PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the People of the State of California hereby move this
18 Court to rule on specific evidentiary issues.
1 I. INTRODUCTION
2 The People hereby submit this motion regarding various evidentiary issues. This motion
3 is intended to be an extensive, but not exhaustive discussion of the evidentiary issues
4 anticipated to arise during the trial of this case.
6 II. EVIDENTIARY ISSUES
7 1. The Defense Should Be Precluded From Introducing Irrelevant Evidence
8 Section 350 of the California Evidence 'Code precludes admission of irrelevant evidence.
9 Only evidence that has "any tendency in reason to prove or disprove any disputed fact that is of
10 consequence to the determination of the action" is relevant. CaL Evid. Code § 210. The
11 defense should be precluded from introducing the following irrelevant evidence, as it does not
12 pertain to the issues presented in the case against Conrad Murray.
13 A. Pending Lawsuits and Parties Involved
14 The fact or content of any lawsuits or claims pending or filed by or against the Jackson
15 family or the Michael Jackson estate is irrelevant to this case, as they are not related to the
16 defendant's particlpation in Michael Jackson's death. The defense should accordingly be
17 prohibited from making any reference to or questioning any witness concerning such lawsuits.
18 B. The Nation of Islam
19 Evidence concerning the Nation of Islam, such as questioning any witness about his or
20 her knowledge, participation, and/or affiliation with The Nation of Islam, is irrelevant to this case
21 because it does not relate to the defendant's participation in Michael Jackson's death. At the
22 preliminary hearing in this matter, defense counsel asked witness Michael Amir Williams
23 numerous questions regarding his and five others' affiliation with The Nation of Islam. Defense 24 counsel also attempted to elicit the names of any of Michael Jackson's staff members that were 25 not affiliated with The Nation of Islam. (Preliminary Hearing Tr. vol. 1, 103-104, Jan. 4, 2011). 26 Evidence concerning the Nation of Islam is irrelevant and should therefore be excluded.
2. The Court Mav Take Judicial Notice of the Fact That the Defense Had an Opportunity to
Independently Test Medical Evidence 1 and 2
2 The defense requested quantitative analysis of medial evidence items 1 and 2. On
3 November 29, 2010, the Court granted this request subject to the defense signing an
4 acknowledgment regarding some of the risks involved in testing. The defense declined to sign 5 the document and as a result, no further action was taken by the defense regarding testing. On 6 December 29, 2010, the Court again ruled it was prepared to sign an order permitting the
7 testing and again, no further action was taken by the defense.
8 Should it become relevant, the People will ask this Court to take judicial notice of the
9 above rulings regarding the requested testing, so as not to mislead the jury concerning the
10 defense's opportunity to test the medical evidence prior to trial.
12 3. The Court Should Exclude Evidence of Alberto Alvarez's Misdemeanor Conviction
13 Prosecution witness Alberto Alvarez has a prior misdemeanor conviction in violation of
14 Penal Code § 415 stemming from an incident on November 1, 2000. He was initially charged 15 with a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code § 273.5, but later pled no contest to a
16 misdemeanor violation of Penal Code § 415, disturbing the peace. At trial, it is anticlpated that 17 the defense will attempt to impeach Mr. Alvarez with this evidence.
A. The Defense Cannot Impeach Mr. Alvarez With Evidence Of His Prior Misdemeanor Conviction As The Conviction Is Hearsay
"Misdemeanor convictions are subject to a hearsay objection when offered to prove the
witness committed the underlying crime." People v. Wheeler, 4 Cal.4th 284,297, fn. 7 (1992).
As hearsay, Mr. Alvarez's conviction is completely inadmissible to prove that he in fact
committed this misdemeanor crime.
B. Mr. Alvarez's Prior Misdemeanor Conduct Should Be Excluded as Its Prejudlclal Effect And Consumption of Time Outweigh Its Probative Value
"If past criminal conduct amounting to a misdemeanor has some logical bearing upon
the veracity of a witness in a criminal proceeding, that conduct is admissible, subject to trial
court discretion, as 'relevant' evidence under section 28 (d) [of the California Constitution]". Id. 2 at 295. To be admissible, the misdemeanor conduct must involve a crime of moral turpitude.
3 Id. at 296.
4 If a witness's conduct amounts to a misdemeanor of moral turpitude, the court has
5 discretion to exclude the evidence when the probative value of the prior conduct is outweighed 6 by risk of undue prejudice, consumption of time, or confusion of issues. 'd. at 295. In
7 determining whether to admit this type of impeachment evidence, courts will take into account 8 specific factors traditionally deemed pertinent in this area. Id. at 296. These factors are: (1)
9 whether the prior conviction reflects adversely on an individual's honesty or veracity; (2) the
10 nearness or remoteness in time of a prior conviction; (3) whether the prior conviction is the
11 same or substantially similar conduct to the charged offense; and (4) what the effect will be if
12 the defendant does not testify out of fear of being prejudiced because of impeachment or prior 13 convictions. People v. Beag/e, 6 CaJ.3d 441, 453-54 (1972); see a/so People v. Wheeler, 4
14 CaJ.4th 284, 296 (1992) (reaffirming the validity of Beagle after the passage of Proposition 8 in 15 California).
16 Further, in cases where the past misconduct involves a misdemeanor, the court's
17 analysis is even stricter. "In general, a misdemeanor - or any other conduct not amounting to a 18 felony - is a less forceful indicator of immoral character or dishonesty than is a felony."
19 Wheeler, 4 Cal.4th at 296. "Hence, courts may and should consider with particular care
20 whether the admission of such evidence might involve undue time, confusion, or prejudice
21 which outweighs its probative value." Id. at 296-97.
22 In People v. Ybarra, the trial court excluded evidence of a prosecution witness's
23 misdemeanor welfare fraud violation. People v. Ybarra, 166 Cal.App.4th 1069 (2008). Prior to 24 trial, the witness, Mercedes Lopez, had entered a misdemeanor plea for welfare fraud. Id. at 25 1079. After attending a class and making restltution, the court dismissed the charges against 26 her. Id. The defense attempted to impeach her testimony with evidence of this prior conduct, 27 but the trial court did not admit this evidence. Id. The trial court noted that she suffered no
Evidentiary Issues .d.
1 conviction, she had no perception of "any benefit for testifying," and the court preferred to
2 "generally deny admissibility of Wheeler evidence because it tries a case within a case." Id.
3 The appellate court upheld the trial court's decision, stating, "The trial court's ruling ... shows the 4 requisite understanding of and compliance with [Evidence Code section 352]." Id. at 1080.
5 Mr. Alvarez's prior conduct is similar to that of the witness in Ybarra. Although Mr.
6 Alvarez was initially arrested on November 1, 2000 for a misdemeanor violation of P.C. § 273.5, 7 a crime of moral turpitude, he was never convicted of this crime, just as Mercedes L6pez was
8 never convicted of welfare fraud, a crime of moral turpitude. Mr. Alvarez instead entered a plea 9 of no contest to a misdemeanor violation of P.C. § 415 (disturbing the peace), which is not a
10 crime of moral turpitude. Just as in Ybarra, this Court should be concerned about trying a case 11 within a case if Mr. Alvarez's prior misconduct is admitted for purposes of impeachment.
12 Moreover, Mr. Alvarez's conduct is even less indicative of his veracity than is the
13 conduct at issue in Ybarra, where the witness was accused of fraud, which directly bears on 14 one's honesty and veracity. Mr. Alvarez's conduct has nothing to do with fraud or lying and 15 thus, there is a stronger argument that his prior conduct does not bear on his veracity and
16 should be excluded by this Court.
C. In Analyzing the Factors Enumerated in Beagle, the Court Should Preclude Evidence of Mr. Alvarez's Prior Conduct
Further, when this Court takes into account the factors enumerated in Beagle, it is
apparent that the evidence of Mr. Alvarez's prior conduct should be excluded. The Court must first look at whether the prior conduct reflects adversely on an individual's honesty or veracity. Beagle, 6 Cal.3d at 453. In Beagle, the court discussed Judge Burger's previous analysis of these enumerated factors and stated, '''Acts of violence ... generally have little or no direct bearing on honesty and veracity." Id. In this case, Mr. Alvarez's prior conduct does not reflect
adversely on his honesty or veracity. He was accused of an incident of domestic violence in November of 2000. He was not accused of any act involving deceit and thus, his conduct would have little bearing on his trustworthiness as a witness.
1 The Court must also take into account the nearness or remoteness in time of a prior 2 conviction. Mr. Alvarez's conduct occurred on November 1,2000, which is almost 11 years 3 prior to his anticipated date of testimony in this case. Thus, any relevance concerning his
4 veracity or honesty would be remote. The final two factors from Beagle are not applicable since 5 the conduct at Issue was committed by a witness and not the defendant.
6 The Court should exclude evidence referring to Mr. Alvarez's misdemeanor conduct
7 since its admission would involve undue time, confusion, and/or prejudice, outweighing its
8 probative value.
9 The People respectfully request this Court to rule on the above evidentiary issues.
STEVE COOLEY District Attorney of Los Angeles County
David Walgren Deputy District Attor
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