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Name: Mejia v. Garcia
Case #: 06-16460
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/25/2008
Summary

CALJIC Nos. 2.50.01 and 2.50.1, permitting the jury to consider defendant’s prior sexual offense, as proved by a preponderance of the evidence, to determine whether defendant committed the charged sexual offenses, do not apply to charged non-sexual offenses. In 1999, a California jury convicted appellant of numerous sexual offenses, as well as kidnapping, assault with a firearm, and assault with a deadly weapon. At trial, pursuant to Penal Code sections 1108 and 352, the prosecution introduced evidence of appellant’s acts of uncharged sexual misconduct. The jury was instructed in accord with CALJIC nos. 2.50.01 and 2.50.1, that stated that the uncharged acts could be considered in its determination of the evidence, and that the prosecution had the burden of proving that appellant committed the uncharged acts by a preponderance of the evidence. Appellant argued that the language of 2.50.01, “If you find that the defendant had this disposition [i.e., to commit similar acts because of the commission of the uncharged acts], you may … infer that he was likely to commit and did commit the crime or crimes of which he is accused,” was unconstitutional as it could be read to apply to the non-sexual offenses and, therefore, lessened the prosecution’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to the non-sexual offenses. Rejecting this argument, the court agreed with the government’s position that 2.50.01, is ambiguous as to its implications with respect to the non-sexual offenses, and, therefore, a harmless error analysis is appropriate. The court held that under this analysis there was not a reasonable likelihood that the jury applied the instruction in an unconstitutional manner.