People v. Adair

In People v. Adair (2003) 29 Cal.4th 895, the Court identified the principal function of the trial judge in determining factual innocence. Adair explains that while a defendant may be acquitted of a crime and related charges, the trial court may still find the defendant is not factually innocent. In such circumstances "'the trial court does not "disagree" with the jury's verdict ... . It refines that verdict by distinguishing between those cases where acquittal is based upon actual innocence and those where acquittal is based upon the prosecution's failure of proof.'" (Adair, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 907.) The court further explained: "'"Factually innocent" as used in section 851.8, subdivision (b) does not mean a lack of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or even by "a preponderance of evidence."' Defendants must 'show that the state should never have subjected them to the compulsion of the criminal law--because no objective factors justified official action ... .' In sum, the record must exonerate, not merely raise a substantial question as to guilt. " (Id. at p. 909.) On appeal, we independently review the record to determine whether appellant sustained her burden of showing no reasonable cause exists to believe that she committed the charged offense. (See Adair, supra, 29 Cal.4th at pp. 905-907.) In Adair, the trial court made a factual determination that the defendant did not murder the victim. However, as Adair notes, the trial judge's conclusion "ultimately ...amounted to no more than inferences and deductions that support a finding of reasonable doubt. Whether considered singly or collectively, the cited facts and circumstances fail 'to show that no reasonable cause exists to believe that defendant committed the offense' charged." (Adair, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 909.)