The Appeals Process (California Criminal Code)
On an appeal from a judgment after a trial, the appellate court
will reverse the judgment only if it finds the trial court committed legal
errors that were prejudicial during the trial. Examples of such legal errors
include the trial court giving erroneous jury instructions, erroneously
admitting or excluding evidence, and failing to follow proper procedures. If the
appellate court finds such legal errors, the Court will then determine whether
these errors were prejudicial. A legal error is considered prejudicial only if
there is some reasonable chance that it was likely to have effected the result
in the case. Thus, minor legal errors are usually not grounds for a reversal.
If the Jury sentences Scott to death, his first opportunity for appeal will likely be governed by this timeline:
190.6. (a) The Legislature finds that the sentence in all capital cases should be imposed expeditiously.
(b) Therefore, in all cases in which a sentence of death has been imposed on or after January 1, 1997, the opening appellate brief in the appeal to the State Supreme Court shall be filed no later than seven months after the certification of the record for completeness under subdivision (d) of Section 190.8 or receipt by the appellant's counsel of the completed record, whichever is later, except for good cause. However, in those cases where the trial transcript exceeds 10,000 pages, the briefing shall be completed within the time limits and pursuant to the procedures set by the rules of court adopted by the Judicial Council.
(c) In all cases in which a sentence of death has been imposed on or after January 1, 1997, it is the Legislature's goal that the appeal be decided and an opinion reaching the merits be filed within 210 days of the completion of the briefing. However, where the appeal and a petition for writ of habeas corpus is heard at the same time, the petition should be decided and an opinion reaching the merits should be filed within 210 days of the completion of the briefing for the petition.
(b) The trial court shall certify the record for completeness and for incorporation of all corrections, as provided by subdivision (c), no later than 90 days after entry of the imposition of the death sentence unless good cause is shown. However, this time period may be extended for proceedings in which the trial transcript exceeds 10,000 pages in accordance with the timetable set forth in, or for good cause pursuant to the procedures set forth in, the rules of court adopted by the Judicial Council.