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PG II(E) Reference To Specific Facts/Witnesses.
(1) Improper To Single Out Particular Witness:
“It is improper… for the court to single out a particular witness in an instruction, since by so doing, the court charge becomes a comment on how the evidence should be considered, rather than a general instruction on a defense theory. [Citations.]” People v. Harris (89) 47 C3d 1047, 1099. However, “in certain circumstances clarity requires that [the instructions] be made to refer specifically to the facts before the court.” (People v. Rollo (79) 20 C3d 109, 123, fn 6.)
[See also FORECITE BIBLIO, “Language/Drafting of Instructions” (BIBLIO L)]
(2) Deleting Reference To Specific Crime To “Sanitize” A Prior Conviction:
It has been suggested that the potential prejudice of a prior conviction may be limited by “sanitizing” the conviction to avoid reference to the specific offense. (Cf., People v Gray (2007) 158 CA4th 635, 642 [CALCRIM 316 modified (incorrectly) to refer to crimes “involving dishonesty”].) However, presentation of an unspecified prior felony conviction to the jurors invites prejudicial speculation. (See People v. Rollo (77) 20 C3d 109, 115-20; see also People v. Stewart (2004) 33 C4th 425, 479 [not unreasonable for counsel to opt for specification of several specific priors in lieu of having unspecified prior]; People v. Barrick (82) 33 C3d 115, 126-28; People v. Jimenez (9th Cir. 2000) 214 F3d 1095, 1099 [reference to prior as “felony involving firearm” was improper].)
(3) Blanket Admonition May Be Undercut By List Of Specific Items.
In revising CC 101 in April 2010 the CALCRIM Committee deliberately did not list specific electronic devices by name. “The Committee concluded that a list of specific Web sites such as Google, Facebook, and MySpace is likely to require constant updates because popular Web sites come and go very quickly in the digital age. Moreover, when jurors hear a blanket admonition not to communicate with others about the trial, that admonition may be undercut by a list of specific forbidden means of communication. After listening to a long list, jurors may even conclude that modes of communication not mentioned are permitted.” (Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions. Report to the Judicial Council for meeting of April 23, 2010, pp. 3-4 [http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jc/documents/reports/20100423itema4.pdf].)