Tag Archives: Burden Of Proof


Was the Maiden Voyage of the Titanic Merely “Incomplete”?
July 29th, 2016

In People v. Cortez (2016) 63 C4th 101 the prosecutor effectively told the jury that a non-imaginary belief is proof beyond a reasonable doubt: “The court told you that beyond a reasonable doubt is not proof beyond all doubt or imaginary doubt. Basically, I submit to you what it means is you look at the […]


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Improper to Instruct That an “Abiding Conviction” Means A Verdict “You Will Be Comfortable with … a Year from Now”
July 21st, 2016

In People v. Muniz [UNPUBLISHED] (2011) 198 CA4th 1324, at the beginning of voir dire, the judge instructed the jurors that in “plain English” an “abiding conviction” means “when you come to a verdict you will be comfortable with it the day you do it, two months or a year from now.” The majority opinion […]


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Improper to Describe Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in Terms of “Every Day” Decisions
July 20th, 2016

In People v. Nguyen (1995) 40 CA4th 28, 35-37, the prosecutor told the jury that people apply the reasonable doubt standard “every day” and it is the same standard people customarily use in deciding whether to change lanes when driving or whether to get married. The court of appeal held that this argument trivialized the […]


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Defense Has No Burden to Prove Any Specific Facts
July 13th, 2016

CC 100, paragraph 3, sentence 4, provides as follows: “Because (he/she/they) (is/are) presumed innocent, the defendant[s] (does/do) not have to prove that (he/she/they) (is/are) not guilty.” CC 100 is technically correct as far as it goes. (See People v. Ibarra (2007) 156 CA4th 1174, 1179.) However, it only discusses the presumption of innocence in the […]


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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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Rejection or Disbelief of Alibi or Third Party Guilt Evidence
February 23rd, 2015

This post [0003 Centeno] discusses the problem of juror confusion regarding whether rejection or disbelief of defense evidence can supply proof that is missing from the prosecution’s evidence. This risk is particularly high with defenses such as alibi and third party guilt. The greatest danger of diluting the burden of proof in such cases is […]


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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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Deficiencies in Defense Evidence Cannot Make Up for Deficiencies in Prosecution’s Evidence
February 3rd, 2015

  People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 659 provides an important clarification of the presumption of innocence and the prosecution’s burden of proof. “The prosecution cannot suggest that deficiencies in the defense case can make up for shortcomings in its own.” (Id., at 673.) In Centeno the prosecutor urged the jury to “decide which […]


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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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