PG X(F) Indicia Of A Close Case.
“‛In a close case … any error of a substantial nature may require a reversal and any doubt as to its prejudicial character should be resolved in favor of the appellant.’ [Citation].” (People v. Von Villas (92) 11 CA4th 175, 249 [15 CR2d 112].) Hence, it is important to utilize “indicia of closeness” to demonstrate that the case was close.
For example, in People v. Filson (94) 22 CA4th 1841, 1852 [28 CR2d 335], the court relied upon the length of the deliberations (“longer than the evidentiary phase of the trial”) and the jury’s request for additional instructions to conclude that “the scope for doubt and misgivings is substantial. In these circumstances neither [Watson] nor [Chapman] can be satisfied.” (Ibid; see also Woodford v. Visciotti (2002) 537 US 19 [154 LEd2d 279; 123 SCt 357] [assuming that aggravating factors in death penalty trial were not overwhelming where jury deliberated for a full day and requested additional instructional guidance].)
When the jury deliberates for a very short time (e.g., 61 minutes) it is possible that the short deliberation may have been the product of the error and thus indicate the prejudicial effect of the error. (See e.g., People v. Barnes (97) 57 CA4th 552, 557 fn 3 [67 CR2d 162].)
Length of Deliberations: Non-Capital Case
People v. Filson (94) 22 CA4th 1841, 1852 [28 CR2d 335]
People v. Cardenas (82) 31 C3d 897, 907 [184 CR 165] (12 hours)
People v. Rucker (80) 26 C3d 368, 391 [162 CR 13] (9 hours)
People v. Woodard (79) 23 C3d 329, 341 [152 CR 536] (6 hours)
People v. Collins (68) 68 C2d 319 332 [66 CR 497] (8 hours)
People v. Bennett (69) 276 CA2d 172, 176 [80 CR 706] (10 hours)
Osborne v. U.S. (8th Cir. 1965) 351 F2d 111, 118 (16 hours)
Rhoden v. Rowland (9th Cir. 1999) 172 F3d 633, 637 (jury deliberation for 9 hours over 3 days)
But see, People v. Walker (95) 31 CA4th 432, 438-39 [37 CR2d 167] modified at 32 CA4th 750 [6 1/2 hours deliberation time does not indicate close case under circumstances]; People v. Houston (2005) 130 CA4th 279, 301 [the length of a jury=s deliberation is related to the amount of information presented at trial; requests for the reading back of selected testimony does not necessarily indicate that this was a “close” case].
Length of Deliberations: Guilt Phase Of Capital Case
People v. Taylor (91) 52 C3d 719, 732 [276 CR 391] [length of deliberations not “unduly significant” in special circumstance capital trial]; see also People v. Cooper (1991) 53 Cal. 3d 771, 837 [“We have sometimes inferred from unduly lengthy deliberations that the question of guilt was close. (E.g., In re Martin (1987) 44 Cal.3d 1, 51 [241 Cal. Rptr. 263, 744 P.2d 374].) The inference is much weaker, however, in a case of this size and complexity. The trial lasted over three months. Dozens of witnesses testified, some about complex scientific testing. Well over 700 exhibits were admitted into evidence. This was a capital case. It is not surprising that the deliberations were protracted. Even accepting defendant’s time estimate, the length of the deliberations demonstrates nothing more than that the jury was conscientious in its performance of high civic duty.”]
Length of Deliberations: Penalty Phase Of Capital Case
People v. Fudge (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 1075, 1133 [“In this case, the jury deliberated for five days before reaching its penalty verdict. The explanation for these protracted penalty deliberations cannot be found in the volume of evidence the jury was required to review and evaluate, for the prosecution presented no evidence at the penalty phase and the testimony of the two defense witnesses was brief. Thus, reviewing the relevant evidence was a relatively simple chore. A more plausible explanation for the length of the penalty deliberations‑‑indeed the only plausible explanation‑‑is that the jury found the selection of the appropriate penalty in this case to be a close and difficult issue.”]; compare People v. Carpenter (1997) 15 Cal. 4th 312, 422 [penalty phase deliberations of 24 hours was “not surprising” in light of the amount of evidence, the other crimes proven at the penalty phase‑‑which the jury could consider only if it first found defendant committed them beyond a reasonable doubt‑‑and the enormity of the decision; also penalty phase jury heard all the guilt evidence]
Prejudice Not Cured By Relatively Short Deliberations
See FORECITE PG X(E)(12)(c).
Request for Read-Back, Reinstruction, Etc.
People v. Filson (94) 22 CA4th 1841, 1852 [28 CR2d 335]
People v. Hernandez (88) 47 C3d 315, 352-53 [253 CR 199]
People v. Markus (78) 82 CA3d 477, 480 [147 CR 151] [request for further instruction indicated jury was giving serious consideration to the defense]
Osborne v. U.S. (8th Cir. 1965) 351 F2d 111, 118
Request For Explanation Of Instruction
People v. Mathews (94) 25 CA4th 89, 100 [30 CR2d 330]
Inquiry About The Meaning Of A Life Sentence In A Capital Prosecution
People v. Samuels (2005) 36 C4th 96, 140, Werdegar, J., concurring [“Because the jury in this case specifically asked the trial court for guidance on the question of the possibility of parole, we know it was concerned about this issue. Given that the jury had already been instructed and had retired to deliberate, its question came at a critical point in the trial”].
Castro v. Oklahoma (10th Cir. 1995) 71 F3d 1502, 1516
Prior Hung Jury
People v. Rivera (85) 41 C3d 388, 393 fn 3 [221 CR 562] (lead opinion) and 395 (Grodin, J. concurring)
People v. Brooks (79) 88 CA3d 180, 188 [151 CR 606]
Juror Deadlock Before Reaching Verdict
People v. Gainer (77) 19 C3d 835, 854-56 [131 CR 861]
See also FORECITE PG X(E)(13).
Split Verdict Reflecting Jury’s Selective Acceptance Of Defense And Prosecution Evidence
See People v. Torres (2011) 198 CA4th 1131, n 12 [“In our case, however, the jury obviously doubted the victim’s credibility, being unable to agree that defendant had a handgun. Under these circumstances, we cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt what the jury might have decided if presented with instructions under CALCRIM No. 2623.”]; see also People v. Sojka (2011) 196 CA4th 733, 739 [“The fact of the jury’s inability to reach verdicts on four other charges and acquitting on one supports our conclusion (that omission of a defense theory instruction was prejudicial).”]; People v. Epps (1981) 122 CA3d 691, 698.
Conflict Between Prosecution Witnesses
See People v. Lee (2005) 131 CA4th 1413 [conflicts among prosecution witnesses showed that the case was closely balanced].
No Eyewitness Testimony Or Physical Evidence Tying Defendant To Crime
See People v. Garcia (2005) 36 C4th 777, 804 [prosecution evidence not overwhelming or irrefutable where there was no eyewitness testimony and no physical evidence directly tying defendant to the crime].
Request To View The Scene
See People v. Garcia (2005) 36 C4th 777, 804 [request to view the scene indicated that the jurors had at least some lingering questions concerning whether the prosecution’s version of the events should be accepted].