Tag Archives: Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

Improper Prosecutor Argument That Reasonable Doubt Requires “Some Evidence on Which to Base A Doubt”
September 23rd, 2021

In People v. Johnsen (2021) 10 Cal.5th 1116, 1166-67 the prosecutor misstated the law by telling the jurors that “[t]here has to be some evidence on which to base a doubt” because this definition of reasonable doubt “preclude[d] jurors from having reasonable doubt solely based on the insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence.” The CSC held […]

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Deficiencies in Defense Evidence Cannot Make up for Shortcomings in Prosecution’s Evidence
August 13th, 2020

[Update of February 3rd, 2015 post] People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 659 provides an important clarification of the presumption of innocence and the prosecution’s burden of proof: “…[D]eficiencies in the defense case [cannot] make up for shortcomings in [the prosecution’s case].” (Id., at 673.) For example, in People v. Brito (Sep. 19, 2019, […]

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CC 1191 Is Anomalous and Confusing When Evidence of the Uncharged Offense Consists Solely of the Victim’s Testimony
March 9th, 2018

The concurring opinion of Justice Perren in People v. Gonzales (2017) 16 Cal. App. 5th 494, 505-07 identified a serious problem with CC 1191 when the “the proffered evidence of the uncharged offenses consists solely of the victim’s testimony.” (Id. at 507.) The problem results from anomalous language in the instruction which allows the jurors […]

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Does Implausible or Illogical Testimony Warrant Instructing Per CC 361 on Defendant’s Failure to Explain or Deny Evidence?
March 10th, 2015

  In People v. Cortez, S211915 (B233833; nonpublished opinion; (Cal. Sept. 18, 2013) the Supreme Court granted the prosecution’s petition for review to consider, the following issues: In the petition for review the attorney general characterized these issues as follows:   1. May a court instruct the jury with CALCRIM No. 361 on the failure […]

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Use of Diagram or Visual Aid to Explain Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
February 13th, 2015

In People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 659, 662 the prosecutor used a diagram showing the boundaries of California and urged the jury to convict based on a “reasonable” view of the evidence. In addressing this issue the CSC discussed several related cases:   The case law is replete with innovative but ill-fated attempts […]

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Reasonable Doubt: Sua Sponte Duty
May 20th, 2014

  The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction and there is probably no more important instruction that must be given. Failure to give a proper reasonable doubt instruction sua sponte may require automatic reversal. (People v. Phillips (1997) 59 Cal. App. 4th 952, 955-956, disapproved on other grounds by People v. […]

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