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Name: People v. Flores
Case #: D047249
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/31/2007

In a case where the trial court omits an instruction on the reasonable doubt standard of proof and the jury is not otherwise adequately instructed, the Chapman error standard applies (Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18; People v. Vann (1974) 12 Cal.3 220). Here, the trial court gave a reasonable doubt instruction during jury selection. The court noted that absent extraordinary circumstances, such pre-instruction is insufficient to satisfy constitutional requirements. Further, the predeliberation instructions, themselves, considered individually and as a whole, did not inform the jury that the prosecution had the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Although reasonable doubt instructions were provided as to other specific instructions such as circumstantial evidence, defendant’s choice not to testify, and special findings, the court determined that a reasonable doubt instruction given in a specific context does not apply generally to the charged offenses. Accordingly, appellant’s 19-count conviction and 240-plus-year sentence were reversed.