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PG IX(G) Jury’s Request For Read-Back of Arguments of Counsel.
In People v. Gordon (90) 50 C3d 1223, 1260, the court held that a jury request for read-back of the arguments of counsel may be rejected by the court in the exercise of its discretion if the court determines that the readback would divert the jury’s “focus from the evidence introduced and the instructions given.”
If the jury makes such a request which counsel wishes to have granted it could be argued that the readback is necessary because of the relationship between the argument and the jury’s understanding of the instructions. It is an established practice of the reviewing courts to look to the arguments of counsel in evaluating whether or not the jury understood the instructions. (See, e.g., People v. Brown (88) 45 C3d 1247, 1256-57 [248 CR 817]; see also, FORECITE F 102 Inst 3 regarding instruction of the jurors about their ability to seek readback and reinstruction, etc.) This practice of relying upon the arguments to cure instructional errors – which is of questionable propriety under any circumstances (see FORECITE PG X(G) – is particularly inappropriate when the jury’s request for a readback of the arguments was denied.