Tag Archives: Presumption of Innocence


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 […]


Tags: , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , , ,


Party With Burden of Proof Loses When the Fact Finder is “On the Fence”
March 12th, 2018

Placing any burden at all on the defense, however slight, can be a “game changer” because such a burden requires uncertain or undecided jurors to side with the prosecution instead of the defense. In other words, when the fact finder is uncertain the unburdened party “‘must win.'[Citation.]” (People v. Jackson (2014) 58 Cal. 4th 724, […]


Tags: , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


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 […]


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,