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Whitman v. Superior Court

820 P.2d 262 (1991)

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Whitman v. Superior Court

California Supreme Court

820 P.2d 262 (1991)

Facts

Thomas Whitman (defendant) was charged with a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with three or more prior similar convictions and related charges. Whitman was charged based on a report made by the investigating officer, Officer Navin. The sole witness at Whitman’s preliminary hearing was Officer Bruce Alexander. Alexander was merely a “reader” at Whitman’s preliminary hearing; Alexander was not an arresting or investigating officer, did not personally know Navin, and did not learn of Navin’s report until the district attorney handed Alexander a copy of it on the morning of Whitman’s preliminary hearing. Over Whitman’s objections, Alexander testified to the contents of Navin’s report. During cross-examination, it became clear that Alexander could not explain the circumstances of the report or Navin’s investigation, including the time the report was written, the sobriety tests given to Whitman, or Whitman’s pupil dilation. Based on Alexander’s testimony regarding Navin’s report, the magistrate held Whitman to answer on the counts charged. Whitman moved the California Superior Court to dismiss the information, arguing that the preliminary hearing’s evidence was insufficient to establish probable cause. The district court denied Whitman’s motion, and the California Court of Appeal summarily denied Whitman’s application for mandate. The California Supreme Court issued an alternative writ of mandate.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lucas, C.J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Kennard, J.)

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