AD1 reverses attempted murder conviction for court's unlawful decision to exclude CAL client from discussions about justification defense


CAL client JG was tried and convicted of attempted murder and assault following a stabbing. JG attempted to raise a justification defense. JG testified that, as a teenager, he suffered an incident that “changed the course of [his] life” in which his “heart started racing.” When the prosecutor objected, the court discussed the appropriateness of the testimony with the parties at a sidebar conference from which JG was excluded. At the conference, the prosecutor claimed the testimony was elicited solely to elicit sympathy for JG. Defense counsel argued that it was relevant to defendant’s physical capabilities and perception of danger, and therefore spoke to his justification defense. AD1 found that it was improper to exclude JG from discussions about the justification defense because the subject discussed “implicated defendant’s peculiar factual knowledge such that his participation might have assisted him in advancing his justification defense to the murder and assault counts.” Alison Haupt represented JG on appeal.