People v. Garza

In People v. Garza (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 148, the defendant was charged with possession of cocaine for sale. When arrested, he had four small packages of cocaine, weighing about one-half gram each (a total of two grams) in his jacket pocket. The prosecution presented evidence that possession of this quantity of cocaine, packaged in this manner, was sufficient to establish that the possession was for sale, even if the observing officer's testimony about the defendant's activities prior to his arrest were disregarded. Given this evidence, the location from which the observations were made clearly was not material. The defendant filed a habeas corpus petition together with his direct appeal, contending that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to move for the disclosure of the location from which the officer observed him. In assessing this contention, the court first noted that section 1042 does not require an adverse finding or other remedy unless there is a reasonable possibility that nondisclosure of the privileged information might deprive the defendant of a fair trial. (Garza, supra, 32 Cal.App.4th at pp. 153-154.) The court went on to opine that the defendant had not met this requirement in the case before it, because the police officer conducting the surveillance had been able to broadcast detailed descriptions of the defendant and his accomplice, and their activities, over the radio to other police officers as he made his observations. Because this would not have been possible unless the officer actually had a clear view of the suspects, the court held it was not reasonably possible that disclosure of the officer's location would have exonerated the defendant, and therefore the location was not material. (Id. at pp. 154-155.) Moreover, the quantity of cocaine found in the defendant's possession was sufficient to establish possession for sale even without the evidence obtained from the officer's observations. Thus, the court held that the ineffective assistance of counsel claim was without merit, and denied the habeas corpus petition. (Id. at p. 155.)