Is It Proper to Instruct That an Excluded Defendant Was “Voluntarily” Absent?
July 10th, 2019

In People v. Johnson (2018) 6 Cal.5th 541, 589 the judge excluded Johnson from the courtroom for the entire trial after he assaulted his lawyer; the jurors never saw or heard him.  The judge instructed the jury that defendant was “voluntarily” absent and they should not take this into account.  Defense counsel objected that the word “voluntarily” was untrue.  The CSC affirmed concluding:


“We need not decide whether a defendant who knowingly and voluntarily disrupts the proceedings such that the trial cannot continue   in his presence has voluntarily absented himself.”

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