People v. ZarazuaAnnotate this Case
Police tried to conduct a traffic stop. Zarazua failed to yield. Driving with a suspended license, he led officers on a 15-minute pursuit, committing numerous traffic violations. Zarazua crashed, got out of the SUV, and ran. Officers arrested him. At the time, Zarazua identified as female. During jury selection, defense counsel advised prospective jurors that prosecution witnesses would “refer to Mr. Zarazua as she. And Mr. Zarazua . . . no longer identifies as she. Mr. Zarazua identifies [as male] and prefers the pronoun he.” Each juror disclaimed feelings of sympathy toward, or bias against, Zarazua based on his gender transition. The prosecutor repeatedly referred to Zarazua using masculine pronouns, prompting Zarazua's counsel to object. Outside the jury’s presence, defense counsel unsuccessfully moved for a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct. The court gave CALCRIM No. 200, which directed jurors not to let sympathy, prejudice, or bias — including bias based on Zarazua’s gender identity — affect their decision. During closing arguments, the prosecutor misgendered Zarazua several times.
The jury convicted Zarazua. The court suspended the imposition of sentence, placed Zarazua on probation, and ordered him to serve jail time. The court of appeal affirmed. . "Parties are to be treated with respect, courtesy, and dignity, including the use of preferred pronouns." Failure to do so offends the administration of justice, however on this record, any misconduct was not prejudicial.