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Name: People v. Keeper
Case #: D055965
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/03/2011

CALCRIM No. 331 is intended to assist the jury in evaluating the testimony of a witness who is a dependent person, as contemplated by Penal Code section 1127g, not a person who suffers from depression or posttraumatic stress syndrome. During an argument over visitation rights, appellant shot and gravely injured his former wife’s husband. Appellant presented evidence that he had suffered from depression for several years and had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome. Defense counsel requested that the court give CALCRIM No. 331, which instructs as to the testimony of a witness with a developmental disability. The reviewing court upheld the denial, finding that the instruction did not apply to the facts. Penal Code section 1127g holds that in a criminal trial, the testimony of a witness who is developmentally disabled must not be discredited because of the witness’ condition. Because the statute does not define “developmental disability,” the court looked to the legislative history. It was enacted along with other statutory amendments meant to protect dependent persons. In this context, a “dependent person” is one whose disability or impairment substantially restricts his ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his rights and, as a result, he is dependent on others for care. Appellant did not present any evidence that his disorder caused him to be a dependent person.