PG X(I) Standard Of Review For Failure To Instruct On Element Of Special Circumstance.
The prejudicial effect of a trial court’s erroneous failure to instruct the jury on an element of a special circumstance allegation is measured by the Chapman “harmless beyond a reasonable doubt” test. In applying this test, the California Supreme Court has held that the conviction may be affirmed under this standard only if the evidence in support of the missing element is “overwhelming”. (See People v. Marshall (97) 15 C4th 1, 42 [61 CR2d 84].) However, in Chapman, the U.S. Supreme Court expressly rejected California’s use of a “overwhelming evidence test” and instead utilized the standard of review elaborated on in Sullivan v. Louisiana (93) 503 US 275 [124 LEd2d 182; 113 SCt 2078].