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People v. Farwell

Filed 6/21/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA THE PEOPLE, ) ) Plaintiff and Respondent, ) ) S231009 v. ) ) Ct.App. 2/5 B257775 RANDOLPH D. FARWELL, ) ) Los Angeles County Defendant and Appellant. ) Super. Ct. No. TA130219 ____________________________________) Defendant, Randolph Farwell, entered a stipulation through his counsel that admitted all of the elements of a charged crime, making it tantamount to a guilty plea. The question is how to assess the validity of the stipulation when Farwell was neither advised of, nor expressly waived, his privilege against self- incrimination, or his rights to jury trial and confrontation. People v. Howard (1992) 1 Cal.4th 1132 (Howard) held that a plea is valid notwithstanding the lack of express advisements and waivers “if the record affirmatively shows that it is voluntary and intelligent under the totality of the circumstances.” (Id. at p. 1175.) Some appellate courts have concluded, however, that the Howard test only applies to “incomplete” advisements but not to “silent records,” where there is a total absence of advisements and waivers. We hold that the totality of the circumstances test applies in silent record cases as well. Applying that test, the record fails to affirmatively show that Farwell understood his counsel’s stipulation had the effect of waiving his constitutional trial rights. The stipulation was the 1 only basis for the jury’s misdemeanor verdict. We reverse the Court of Appeal’s judgment affirming that conviction. I. BACKGROUND Farwell was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter as a felony in count 1, and, in count 2, misdemeanor driving when his driver’s license was suspended or revoked.1 Before trial, defense counsel stated Farwell was willing to plead no contest to the misdemeanor charge. Alternatively, he moved to bifurcate the trial on that allegation. The prosecutor objected to both requests. The court did not accept a change of plea and denied the bifurcation motion. After defense counsel had cross-examined the first witness, the parties entered into the following stipulation, which was read to the jury: “[O]n June 21st, 2013, Randolph Farwell was driving a motor vehicle while his license was suspended for a failure to appear, and . . . when he drove, he knew his license was suspended.” The stipulation encompassed all of the elements of Vehicle Code section 14601.1, subdivision (a), as alleged in count 2. (See CALCRIM No. 2220.) The court instructed the jury that it must accept the stipulated facts as true. When the stipulation was entered, the court did not advise Farwell of the constitutional rights implicated by a guilty plea or the stipulation. Nor did it solicit a personal waiver of those rights. The jury found Farwell guilty as charged. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter, with a concurrent term of six months for the misdemeanor conviction. 1 Penal Code section 192, subdivision (c)(1); Vehicle Code section 14601.1, subdivision (a). It was further alleged that he had suffered a prior serious felony conviction within the meaning of Penal Code sections 667, subdivisions (a)(1) …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court