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Filed 2310 P v Trahan CA41 NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL Powered By Docstoc
					Filed 2/3/10 P. v. Trahan CA4/1
California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for
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                                                  DIVISION ONE

                                           STATE OF CALIFORNIA

THE PEOPLE,                                                         D053959

         Plaintiff and Respondent,

         v.                                                         (Super. Ct. No. SCD214244)


         Defendant and Appellant.

         APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Katherine

A. Bacal, Judge. Affirmed.

         A jury convicted Daniel Schorn Trahan of one count of driving under the

influence of alcohol (Veh. Code, § 23152, subd. (a));1 one count of driving with more

than a .08 percent blood alcohol level (§ 23152, subd. (b)); and, with respect to each

1        All further statutory references are to the Vehicle Code.
count, found that Trahan's blood alcohol level was in excess of .15 percent (§ 23578).

After Trahan waived his right to a jury trial on the prior conviction allegations of the

amended information, the court found Trahan had three priors within the preceding 10

years for driving under the influence, including two convictions in Maricopa County,

Arizona, and one in San Diego County. (§§ 23550, subd. (a), 23626.) The trial court

sentenced Trahan to two years eight months in state prison.

       On appeal, Trahan's sole contention is that the evidence was insufficient to support

the trial court's finding that he is the individual who suffered the prior Arizona

convictions. We affirm the judgment.



       On May 20, 2008, Trahan was driving in San Diego at approximately 2:00 a.m.

when officers on routine patrol observed him swerving and directed him off the highway.

Based on Trahan's red, watery eyes; slurred speech; unsteady gait; alcohol-smelling

breath; and unsatisfactory results of a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officers arrested

Trahan. Trahan took two breath analyzer tests, three minutes apart, showing blood

alcohol levels of .17 percent and .16 percent. On July 3, 2008, the prosecutor filed a

felony complaint.

       On August 14, 2008, the prosecutor filed an amended information, charging

Trahan with one count of driving under the influence of alcohol (§ 23152, subd. (a)) and

one count of driving with more than a .08 percent blood alcohol level (§ 23152,

subd. (b)). With respect to both counts, the information alleged that Trahan's blood

alcohol level was in excess of .15 percent (§ 23578) and that Trahan had incurred three

prior convictions within the preceding 10 years for driving under the influence (§ 23550,

subd. (a)). Specifically, the amended information alleged the following prior convictions:

Violation            Date of Offense       Date of Conviction Docket No./Court

§ 23152, subd. (a)   August 25, 2003       July 31, 2006        SCD181346
§ 23550, subd. (a)                                              San Diego County
§ 23578

Aggravated DUI       December 17, 2003 March 3, 2004            CR2003-027110
                                                                Maricopa County, Arizona

Aggravated DUI       March 20, 2003        March 3, 2004        CR2003-032467
                                                                Maricopa County, Arizona

       Trahan agreed to a bifurcated trial of the information's charges and the alleged

priors. In September 2008 a jury found Trahan guilty of both counts and found true the

enhancement allegation relating to the excess blood alcohol concentration. Trahan then

waived a jury on the prior conviction allegations, and the trial court held a bench trial on

those allegations.

       In the bench trial, the court judicially noticed the fact of Trahan's San Diego

conviction, in which he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, and the

existence of the change of plea form underlying that conviction, in which Trahan

admitted the allegations of the information that he had three prior DUI convictions in

Arizona, including two in 2004 and one in 1996. The prosecution sought to rely upon the

change of plea form as proof of the prior Arizona convictions, but the trial court stated

the change of plea form was insufficient to prove all three prior convictions beyond a

reasonable doubt. The prosecution then presented the testimony and report of a forensic

technician, identifying Trahan's fingerprint records as matching those taken during his

booking in the prior San Diego conviction case. The specialist gave no opinion as to the

thumbprints contained in the records of conviction from the two Arizona cases.

       The trial court took judicial notice of additional certified court documents from the

San Diego prior conviction and certified court documents from the two Arizona

convictions. Trahan's counsel argued that the Arizona conviction records were

insufficient to show that Trahan committed the Arizona offenses because the case

numbers in the Arizona conviction records did not match the case numbers listed on

Trahan's San Diego conviction change of plea form.2

       After reviewing the judicially noticed records, the trial court found "beyond a

reasonable doubt that the defendant has suffered three or more prior convictions. Those

prior convictions being case No. SCD181346, Maricopa County case

No. CR2003-027110, and Maricopa County Arizona case No. CR2003-032467." The

trial court further stated, "I do note that the change of plea form has a list of priors, and

the dates of conviction do not match exactly with the priors as set forth on People's

2     Specifically, on one of the Arizona convictions, the plea form showed a case
number with one erroneously-added digit and one omitted digit. For the other Arizona
conviction, the plea form erroneously lists the Arizona statute section under which
Trahan was convicted, rather than the case number.

Exhibit 2 and People's Exhibit 3. But I find beyond a reasonable doubt that the identity

and the dates of conviction have been found to be those of the defendant in this case,

Daniel Schorn Trahan." Trahan timely appealed.



       Trahan contends the trial court lacked sufficient evidence to find he had suffered

the two prior Arizona convictions for driving under the influence.

A.     Standard of Review

       We review challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence to support prior

conviction findings under the same standard used in determining the sufficiency of the

evidence to support a conviction. (People v. Delgado (2008) 43 Cal.4th 1059, 1067.)

"[T]he court must review the whole record in the light most favorable to the judgment

below to determine whether it discloses substantial evidence — that is, evidence which is

reasonable, credible, and of solid value — such that a reasonable trier of fact could find

the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." (People v. Johnson (1980) 26 Cal.3d

557, 578.) To be substantial, the evidence must be " 'of ponderable legal significance . . .

reasonable in nature, credible, and of solid value.' " (Id. at p. 576.)

B.     The Record Contains Substantial Evidence Supporting the Trial Court's Findings
       That Trahan Suffered the Prior Arizona Convictions

       1.     Governing law.

       "It has long . . . been the rule in California, in the absence of countervailing

evidence, that the identity of [a] person may be presumed, or inferred, from identity of

name." (People v. Mendoza (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 390, 401; People v. Mason (1969)

269 Cal.App.2d 311, 314 (Mason) [". . . California cases hold that, in the absence of other

and contrary testimony [fn. omitted], the identity of names, coupled with proper proof of

prior convictions, is sufficient to sustain a finding that defendant was the person involved

in the earlier cases."].) In addition to identity of name, courts rely on other types of

evidence to establish the defendant's identity as the individual who suffered a prior

conviction, including evidence that the defendant's birth date is the same as that

contained in a prior conviction record and evidence that a defendant previously resided

near the location of the prior conviction. (People v. Towers (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th

1273, 1286 (Towers); People v. Sberno (1937) 22 Cal.App.2d 392, 398 (Sberno).)

2.     Evidence Presented at Trial That Trahan Shared the Same Name, Physical
       Characteristics and Birth Date as the Defendant in the Arizona Convictions Is
       Sufficient to Support the Trial Court's Prior Conviction Findings.

       Trahan contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient, as a matter of

law, to prove that he was the person who suffered the two prior Arizona convictions.

Although Trahan acknowledges that identity of names can be a sufficient basis for

sustaining a prior conviction finding, he argues that "most of the cases that find sufficient

evidence to prove the defendant is the person who suffered the prior conviction have

relied upon more than what the trial court here deemed sufficient." For two reasons, we

disagree and hold that the evidence relied upon here by the trial court was sufficient to

prove the prior convictions beyond a reasonable doubt.

       First, the combination of Trahan's last and middle names is sufficiently uncommon

that the trial court properly could infer, in the absence of any countervailing evidence,

that he was the person who is named in the Arizona conviction records. (See, e.g.,

People v. Sarnblad (1972) 26 Cal.App.3d 801, 805 [rejecting need for photographic or

fingerprint evidence where name "Donald Sarnblad" was sufficiently uncommon for

inference of identity based on the name]; People v. Brucker (1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 230,

242 ["Brucker" sufficiently uncommon to support presumption that defendant "Brucker"

was same as defendant in instant case]; Mason, supra, 269 Cal.App.2d at p. 314.)

       Second, the evidence showed that the defendant who suffered each of the Arizona

convictions shared Trahan's birth date, Social Security number and physical

characteristics. (Towers, supra, 150 Cal.App.4th at p. 1286 [birth date, birthplace and

tattoo supported finding defendant was individual who suffered prior convictions].) In

addition, Trahan listed an Arizona address on the change of plea in the prior San Diego

conviction, thus buttressing the trial court's finding Trahan was the defendant who

suffered the prior Arizona convictions. (Sberno, supra, 22 Cal.App.2d at p. 402

[defendant's prior conviction supported by similarity of uncommon name, prior

conviction's location and defendant's admission he had " 'done time' "].)3

       In light of the case law cited above, we conclude that the record contains

sufficient evidence to support the court's finding that Trahan suffered the prior

convictions in the Arizona cases.



       The judgment is affirmed.

                                                                                    IRION, J.


              MCCONNELL, P. J.

                        NARES, J.

3       Citing People v. Hall (1980) 28 Cal.3d 143, the Attorney General contends the
change of plea form from the prior San Diego conviction constitutes a conclusive
admission of the prior Arizona convictions, arguing that the prior Arizona convictions
were an element of the offense underlying the prior San Diego conviction. We disagree
and note generally that prior convictions are considered sentencing factors rather than an
element of the crime. (People v. Casillas (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 171, 184, quoting
Thompson v. Superior Court (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 144, 149-150.) We need not address
this issue, however, because as we explain above, we conclude substantial evidence, apart
from the prior San Diego conviction, supports the existence of Trahan's prior Arizona

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