People v. Garcia
No. E051761 (opn 8/31/2011; rev den 11/22/2011)
Prejudice: Selective vs. Whole-Record Review
Court: 4th District, Div 2
Errors Found/Argued: Errors found by another court
Summary: A police officer read defendant his Miranda rights, then asked defendant, “Now having [those rights] in mind, do you wish to talk to me?” Defendant answered, “No,” but the officer kept questioning defendant and ultimately obtained a confession. The Court of Appeal held that, in context, “No” didn’t mean “No”; i.e., it was ambiguous and so didn’t amount to an assertion of defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to silence. The court added that even if it was constitutional error for the jury to hear the almost four-hour recorded interrogation, the error was harmless. The CA Supreme Court denied review. But in a federal habeas proceeding, the district court and Ninth Circuit reversed, holding the Court of Appeal decision was both contrary to and an unreasonable application of established United States Supreme Court law; it was also based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. And in finding harmless error, the Court of Appeal unreasonably ignored the prosecutor’s reliance on the confession in arguing to the jury.