People v. LopezAnnotate this Case
The court of appeal affirmed Lopez's convictions for murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The trial court abused its discretion in concealing the prospective jurors' names from the attorneys but the error was harmless. It is a generally accepted practice for courts to refer to jurors by their badge numbers during voir dire to protect their privacy. Courts must be careful to make clear to jurors there is a reason for the procedure other than possible safety concerns relating to the defendant. The trial court erred in advising prospective jurors that the court was referring to them by numbers in part for security reasons; jurors could speculate that Lopez posed a security risk. The court withheld from the attorneys the jurors’ names out of concern that attorneys (or members of the public or press) would obtain additional information about the jurors online or contact the jurors. Absent a compelling case-specific need to conceal the names from the attorneys, that was an abuse of discretion. The court upheld the denial of the motion to exclude Lopez’s admission, in a jail call with his sister, that he had killed someone.