People v. Poddar

103 Cal. Rptr. 84, 26 Cal. App. 3d 438 (1972)

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People v. Poddar

California Court of Appeal
103 Cal. Rptr. 84, 26 Cal. App. 3d 438 (1972)

Facts

Prosenjit Poddar (defendant) was a university student in California when he killed a young woman who rejected his romantic interest. Poddar shot the woman with a pellet gun and stabbed her multiple times. Afterward, Poddar called the police and reported his actions. At trial, Poddar offered to present the testimony of an anthropology professor who had lived in India for over 20 years that cultural stress had made it difficult for Poddar to make the adjustment from his simple culture in a caste in India, regarded as untouchable, to the sophisticated context of a university in America. Essentially, Poddar wished to use the anthropologist to provide evidence of Poddar’s diminished capacity. The trial judge did not believe that the anthropologist was qualified to testify regarding the direct impact of cultural stress on Poddar. However, the judge was willing to permit the anthropologist to present factual testimony on cross-cultural difficulties. The judge was also willing to permit Poddar’s attorney to present psychiatric experts with hypothetical questions that contained facts offered by the anthropologist. Poddar’s attorney refused this offer because he wanted the anthropologist to testify as an independent expert on Poddar’s diminished capacity and allow the jury to analyze the anthropologist’s testimony directly as opposed to as filtered through psychiatric testimony. Poddar pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but was determined to be both sane and guilty of second-degree murder. Poddar appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Devine, J.)

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