Improper Prosecutorial Statements That It Is Illegal for Jurors to Refuse to Deliberate and that Jurors Must Report any Such Refusal
September 30th, 2021

In People v. Morales (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 326 the prosecutor stated in closing argument that it was “illegal” for jurors to refuse to deliberate and admonished that the jurors must report the failure to deliberate, and allegedly conveyed that jurors had no power to engage in nullification.


The Court of Appeal held that the prosecutor’s statements were erroneous based on People v. Engelman (2002) 28 Cal.4th 436, which disapproved CJ 17.41.1 [jury has obligation to report any juror’s refusal to deliberate or intent to disregard the law].)


However, it was unnecessary to decide whether the prosecutor’s comments rose to the level of misconduct, because trial counsel’s failure to object was not prejudicial. The trial court correctly instructed the jurors that they had a duty to talk, deliberate, and follow the law, and there was no evidence of juror conflict, a refusal to deliberate, or an intent to disregard the law.

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