Judge Has Sua Sponte duty to Give Cautionary Instruction re: Jury Conduct But Standard of Prejudice Not Resolved
July 19th, 2016

In People v. Carter (2010) 182 CA4th 522, 531-534 the reviewing court held that the failure to give CC 101 sua sponte was error. However, the parties disagreed on whether the harmless error analysis should be governed by People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818, 836 [not reasonably probable a more favorable result would have occurred] or Chapman v. California (1985) 386 U.S. 18, 24 [harmless beyond a reasonable doubt].)

The appellate court did not resolve the standard of prejudice dispute, because under either standard there was nothing to suggest any prejudice. The entire trial including opening and closing statements, testimony, instructions and deliberations took three days. The jury deliberated for slightly more than one hour. Thus, the court was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the giving of CC 101 would have had no effect on this trial.

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