PG V(D) Sanitizing the Instructions.
PG V(D)(1) General:
It is “preferable” for the jury to be given sanitized written instructions rather than copies of the “working” instructions. (People v. Douglas (90) 50 C3d 468, 516 [268 CR 126]; People v. Bloyd (87) 43 C3d 333, 355-56 [233 CR 368].) However, unless counsel makes an appropriate request or objection no error will be found. (Ibid.) (See also People v. Hardy (92) 2 C4th 86, 208 [5 CR2d 796].)
PG V(D)(2) Descriptive Titles:
Generally it is not error to include descriptive titles — even if erroneous — on the written instructions submitted to the jury. (See People v. Bloyd (87) 43 C3d 333, 355 [233 CR 368]; see also People v. Thomas REV GTD/DISD/DEPUB (94) 26 CA4th 891, 899 [31 CR2d 731] [harmless error to give wrong label for correct substantive instruction].) However, if the descriptive titles are misleading or incomplete and/or if some of the instructions are untitled, it may be beneficial to request modification or deletion of the titles so that the jurors are not misled by the titles when they leaf through the written instructions in search of guidance on a given subject. Note that no such request or objection was made inBloyd. [Additional briefing on this issue is available to FORECITE subscribers. Ask for Brief Bank # B-624.]
Another example of how a title may be prejudicial to the defendant may be found in FORECITE F 14.41a [Petty Theft With Prior Conviction–Prior Admitted: Prejudicial Reference To Prior (PC 666)]. The title of CJ 14.41 prejudicially informs the jury about the defendant’s prior conviction.