PG V(N) Instruction Conference: Presence Of Defendant.
People v. Dennis (98) 17 C4th 468 [71 CR2d 680] held that the defendant’s absence from the jury instruction conference was not prejudicial because it was “unlikely that defendant, a lay person, would have contributed in any way to the discussions regarding appropriate instructions on issues of law.” (Dennis, at 538.) In most situations, the defendant’s presence at an instruction conference serves no real purpose. However, in some situations the defendant’s presence should be required. For example, if there is a debate over whether there is going to be an instruction on a lesser-related offense, the defendant should have some input over whether he or she is going to accept conviction of an uncharged offense. It is also conceivable that the defendant should have some input on whether the optional instructions (CJ 2.60 and CJ 2.61) will be given with respect to his assertion of the privilege against self-incrimination.