Tag Archives: Standard of Prejudice


CSC Neither Tightens Nor Lessens Standard of Prejudice for Alternate Theory Error
September 4th, 2020

People v. Aledamat (2019) 8 Cal.5th 1 a divided court held that the same standard of prejudice which applies to the misdescription or omission of elements of the charge applies to alternate theory error: i.e., instruction on both a correct and incorrect theory of guilt: “the same Chapman analysis of harmless error applies to alternative-theory […]


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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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Watson Standard of Prejudice on Appeal Requires “Merely a Reasonable Chance” of a More Favorable Result
November 7th, 2018

In People v. Sandoval (2015) 62 Cal.4th 394 the CSC reversed the lying in wait special circumstance because the trial judge failed to sua sponte instruct, per CJ 8.83 or CJ 8,83.1 that between two reasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence, the jury must choose the inference pointing to innocence: “We … conclude that the prosecution’s […]


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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, […]


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Lesser Included Offenses: Accusatory Pleading Test – Consideration of Evidence from Probable Cause Showing
March 14th, 2017

People v. Ortega (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 956, 967 held that: “Due process principles of fairness, and defendant’s right to be prosecuted only on the noticed charges consistent with the probable cause showing supporting the accusatory pleading, compel us to agree that sexual battery is a lesser included offense of forcible sexual penetration where, as here, […]


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Standard of Prejudice: Penalty Phase Error
October 10th, 2016

People v. Grimes (2016)1 Cal.5th 698, 721-23 held that under California law trial court’s erroneous exclusion of evidence is harmless as to penalty unless there is a “reasonable possibility” that the jury would have rendered a different verdict had the erroneously excluded evidence been presented to the jury.  The “reasonable possibility” standard is “the same, […]


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Reversible Chiu Error: Not Clear Beyond A Reasonable Doubt That Jurors Rejected Natural and Probable Consequences Theory
August 22nd, 2016

People v. Brown (2016) 247 CA4th 211 reversed Brown’s first degree murder conviction in light of People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155. The jury was instructed on three first degree murder theories: (1) Brown was the actual killer, (2) he aided and abetted the actual killer with the intent to kill, and (3) he […]


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Chun Error: 9th Circuit overturns CSC Finding of harmless error
August 15th, 2016

Chun was convicted of second-degree felony murder based on shooting at an occupied motor vehicle either directly or as an aider and abetter. He appealed, arguing that felony murder was inapplicable under the merger doctrine. He also contended that improperly giving the jury the felony murder instruction allowed the jury to convict him of second-degree […]


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Chiu Error: Review Granted to Reconsider People v. Favor (2012) 54 Cal.4th 868
August 15th, 2016

The CSC has granted review in several cases to consider whether to convict an aider and abettor of attempted willful, deliberate and premeditated murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine, must a premeditated attempt to murder have been a natural and probable consequence of the target offense? In other words, should People v. Favor […]


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Chiu Applies Retroactively to Convictions That Were Final on Appeal When Chiu Was Decided
August 9th, 2016

In re Lopez (2016) 246 CA4th 350 concerned a conviction which was final on appeal when People v. Chiu (2014) 59 C4th 155 was decided. See The Chiu Doctrine Explained.  The Chiu opinion did not state whether it applied retroactively to convictions that were final on appeal when it was decided. Lopez concluded that Chiu […]


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