California, United States of America
The following excerpt is from People v. Reed, 232 Cal.Rptr.3d 81, 4 Cal.5th 989, 416 P.3d 68 (Cal. 2018):
Reed also takes issue with the trial court's statements that his guilt was to be "conclusively presumed" and had been "conclusively proven." But we have previously held that similar statements do not impede a defendant's ability to argue lingering doubt. (See People v. Streeter (2012) 54 Cal.4th 205, 265, 142 Cal.Rptr.3d 481, 278 P.3d 754 ["The trial court properly instructed the jury that the penalty phase jury must conclusively accept the previous guilt phase jury's findings on defendant's guilt and on the truth of the special circumstance allegations."]; see also People v. DeSantis (1992) 2 Cal.4th 1198, 1236, 1238, 9 Cal.Rptr.2d 628, 831 P.2d 1210 [holding that trial court's statement that defendant's guilt "has already been decided" "did not remove the question of lingering doubt from the jury, but only told it the truth: that in the penalty phase defendant's guilt was to be conclusively presumed as a matter of law"].) Reed relies on Gay , supra , 42 Cal.4th 1195, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 442, 178 P.3d 422, but that case is distinguishable. In Gay , the error was evidentiary: the trial court erroneously precluded defense counsel from introducing evidence inconsistent with the prior jury's guilty verdict. ( 42 Cal.4th at p. 1218, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 442, 178 P.3d 422.) Here, by contrast, the defense introduced considerable testimony during the penalty phase retrial asserting that Reed was not the shooter. Gay did note that the trial court's instructions to the jury compounded its evidentiary error. ( 42 Cal.4th at p. 1224, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 442, 178 P.3d 422.) But those instructions told the jury to "disregard" any statements or evidence that contradicted the prior jury's verdict. ( Id . at p. 1225, 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 442, 178 P.3d 422.) In contrast, the instructions here did nothing of the sort. Because of this, the instructions were not erroneous.
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