California v. JohnsonAnnotate this Case
Defendant Lionel Johnson, Jr., while plainly drunk, admitted to the police that he had been driving an SUV that had just plowed into another SUV, injuring five people. In a previous appeal the Court of Appeal held, among other things, that the trial court erred by finding insufficient evidence to require a hearing on defendant’s post-trial motion for disclosure of jurors’ identifying information, because one of the supporting declarations did contain evidence of one instance of juror misconduct. Noting, however, that the declarations were in conflict, the Court directed the trial court to grant a hearing unless it found that that declaration was not credible. On remand, the trial court found that the declaration was not credible and once again denied the motion without a hearing. In this second appeal, defendant’s sole contention was that, in the previous appeal, the Court of Appeal erred by directing the trial court to consider the credibility of the declarations on remand. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, the Court held that under the peculiar circumstances of this case, the doctrines of forfeiture, stare decisis, and the law of the case did not prevent the Court from reaching defendant’s contention. In the published portion of this opinion, the Court held that, in deciding whether to hold a hearing on a motion for disclosure of jurors’ identifying information, the trial court must assume that the declarations supporting the motion are credible. The Court overruled its previous opinion to the extent that it held otherwise. Accordingly, the Court directed the trial court to hold an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s motion.