Tag Archives: Burden Of Proof

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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Telling Jurors That the Presumption of Innocence Starts to Lift with the Testimony of the First Witness Is A “Significant Mischaracterization of the Law”
August 19th, 2021

“It is well established that the presumption of innocence continues into deliberations. [Citation to People v. Dowdell (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 1388, 1408.] It could hardly be otherwise, since jurors are required to keep an open mind and not begin to decide any issue—not only the ultimate issue of guilt—until all the evidence has been presented […]

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Are Jurors More Likely to Acquit Under CALCRIM than CALJIC?
March 29th, 2021

The California Supreme Court permits criminal jurors to be instructed on the definition of proof beyond a reasonable doubt using either CALJIC 2.90 or CALCRIM 2.20.   California law imposes a duty on the trial court to instruct the jury in a criminal case on the presumption of innocence in favor of the defendant and […]

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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 334 — Accomplice Witness: No Burden on Defense When Charged Offense Requires Defendant to Have Acted with Accomplice
May 7th, 2020

ALERT: CC 334 MAY UNCONSTITUTIONALLY SHIFT THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO THE DEFENDANT   “Sometimes a witness wears two hats: that of a witness, and that of an accomplice. California law permits placing the burden to prove such a witness’s accomplice status on a defendant. (People v. Tewksbury (1976) 15 Cal.3d 953, 963-68.) This is […]

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Scales of Justice Metaphor Does Not Accurately Describe Burden of Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Which Requires That Proof That Goes “Substantially” Beyond a State of “Equipoise”
July 28th, 2019

In People v. Daveggio and Michaud (2018) 4 Cal. 5th 790, 838-44 the judge addressed several groups of prospective jurors who had yet to complete juror questionnaires. In each session the judge discussed the presumption of innocence and requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, in concepts such as the following: The most important concept […]

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Juror’s “Common Sense and Experience” May Not Override Presumption of Innocence
August 22nd, 2018

CC 105 and CC 226 — which tell the jurors to rely on their “common sense and experience” regarding their consideration of evidence – have been approved in an appellate ruling. (See People v. Campos (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 1228, 1239-1241; see also People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal.4th 659, 669 [“jurors may rely on common knowledge […]

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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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