Defendant’s jury trial waiver was sufficient despite the fact that he was not specifically advised that he had the right to a jury comprised of 12 jurors who must make a unanimous decision as to his guilt. Doyle was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter and other offenses after a court trial. He appealed, arguing that he was not fully advised of his constitutional right to a trial by 12 jurors prior to waiving his right to a jury trial. While the court asked him whether he had discussed his right to a jury trial with counsel and whether he waived that right, it did not specifically inform him that he had a right to a trial by 12 jurors and that all 12 jurors would have to unanimously find him guilty. Held: Affirmed. To be valid, a defendant’s waiver of the right to a jury must also be knowing and intelligent. “No particular language is necessary to waive a jury trial so long as the words employed disclose in their ordinary common sense, fair meaning and context an intention to be tried by the court sitting without a jury.” (People v. Martin (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 973, 982.) While some federal appellate decisions have established that a waiver is valid if the defendant has been specifically informed that 12 members of the community compose a jury, that the defendant can take part in selecting the jury, that the jury verdict must be unanimous, and that the trial court will solely decide guilt or innocence if a jury trial is waived, and while those courts have expressed a strong preference for such a colloquy, the California Supreme Court has declined to adopt such admonitions. Here, Doyle was represented by counsel and made aware of his right to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury or the court, and that he would still have the same rights of cross-examination and to testify at a court trial. There was no requirement that the trial court explain every aspect that Doyle was giving up by entering a jury trial waiver. His waiver was voluntary, knowing, and intelligent.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/E064557.PDF