Tag Archives: Death Penalty


Instructions Must Not Interfere With Jurors’ Ability to Consider Their Personal Religious, Philosophical, and Secular Normative Values During Penalty Deliberation
November 17th, 2019

During the penalty instructions in People v. Gomez (Ruben P.) (2018) 6 Cal.5th 243 the judge said that jurors “are sometime tempted in this phase of the case to refer to biblical references.  Don’t bring the Bible and, don’t refer to those.” The CSC concluded that it is not improper for jurors to consider their […]


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Should Penalty Phase Jury Be Instructed to Consider Both the Defendant’s Chronological and Psychological Age?
November 10th, 2019

CJ 763(i) tells the jury to consider “the defendant’s age at the time of the crime[s]” in deciding whether or not the defendant should be sentenced to death. This factor should permit the jurors to consider the defendant’s chronological and/or psychological age in mitigation.   In Roper v. Simmons (2005) 543 U.S. 551, 570, 125 […]


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How Should the Jury Be Instructed in a Death Penalty Case in Which the Defendant Asked for the Death Penalty?
October 25th, 2019

In People v. Anderson (2018) 5 Cal.5th 372, 423 the defendant asked the jury at the punishment phase to give him the death penalty. The California Supreme Court held that the instruction set forth below “was sufficient to protect defendant from an unreliable verdict.”   Sample Instruction:   Each of you remains obligated to decide […]


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Should Accomplice Corroboration Instruction Be Repeated at Penalty Phase?
October 18th, 2019

In People v. Gomez (2018) 6 Cal 5th 243 the trial court failed to reinstruct the jury during the penalty phase that independent evidence must corroborate accomplice testimony.  The CSC concluded that any error was harmless.  The jury had concluded the defendant was guilty in four of five murders charged.  The prosecutor did not focus […]


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Death Penalty Mitigation: Jurors Should Consider “Any Credible Evidence” Of Mitigating Factors
September 24th, 2019

People v. Powell (2018) 6 Cal.5th 136, 186, while not holding that such instructions were required, concluded that the standards applicable to mitigation evidence were sufficiently explained by the standard CALJIC instructions and an instruction advising “the jury that mitigating factors need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that a mitigating factor may […]


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Should Consciousness Of Guilt Instructions Such As Flight Be Limited To The Determination Of Guilt In Death Penalty Case?
August 19th, 2019

People v. Anderson (2018) 5 Cal. 5th 372, 391-93 recognized that evidence showing consciousness of guilt, such as flight or escaping from jail, is generally admissible within the trial court’s discretion. Thus, the existence of alternate explanations for the defendant’s behavior does not necessarily defeat the court’s discretion to admit consciousness-of-guilt evidence. However, when consciousness […]


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Instructions Must Not Interfere with Jurors’ Ability to Consider Their Personal Religious, Philosophical, and Secular Normative Values During Penalty Deliberation
July 8th, 2019

During the penalty instructions in People v. Gomez (Ruben P.) (2018) 6 Cal.5th 243 the judge said that jurors “are sometime tempted in this phase of the case to refer to biblical references.  Don’t bring the Bible and, don’t refer to those.” The CSC concluded that it is not improper for jurors to consider their […]


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California Law Violates USSC Precedents Including Hurst v. Florida (2016) _U.S._ 136 S. Ct. 616
October 7th, 2018

The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments require any fact other than a prior conviction be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt if the existence of that fact serves to increase the statutory maximum penalty for the crime. Cunningham v. California, 549 U.S. 270, 281-82, […]


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Impact of Defendant’s Inability to Remember His Commission of the Offense on Whether He Should be Executed.
September 6th, 2018

Madison v. Alabama (17-7505) will be argued in the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 2018.   Questions presented: “1. Consistent with the Eighth Amendment, and this Court’s decisions in Ford and Panetti, may the State execute a prisoner whose mental disability leaves him without memory of his commission of the capital offense? See […]


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Death Penalty; Factor B (Other Violent Conduct) – Judge Decides Whether Prior Conduct is:
July 30th, 2018

In People v. Manibusan (2013) 58 Cal.4th 40 the California Supreme Court held that although the jury decides whether alleged acts of other violent criminal activity (PC 190.4 (b)) occurred, “the characterization of those acts as involving an express or implied use of force of violence, or the threat thereof, is a legal matter for […]


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