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Name: People v. Moore
Case #: E048982
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/17/2011
Subsequent History: 6/15/11 rev. granted (S192529)

Although the trial court’s clarification of the reasonable doubt instruction through court-devised examples may not result in error, reliance solely on the language of the jury instruction is the better practice. A jury found true the petition to extend the commitment of appellant who previously had been found not guilty by reason of insanity. On appeal, appellant contended that the giving of examples of reasonable doubt by the judge during voir dire impermissibly trivialized the jury’s duty to make a finding beyond reasonable doubt. Preliminarily, the court discussed past decisions that urged courts not to expand on the reasonable doubt language of the relevant jury instruction. It then rejected appellant’s argument, noting that the trial court’s examples were merely attempts to make the point that there is a difference between reasonable doubt and any possible doubt, and they did not invite the jurors to decide if the petition was proven by using impulsive, reflexive, and nondeep deliberative processes.
In a Penal Code section 1026.5, subdivision (b)(1) trial, persons subject to commitment do not have the right not to testify. Appellant also contended that the court erred by not giving his requested instruction that he had a right not to testify and that no adverse inference should be drawn if he did not testify. The court disagreed finding that the Penal Code 1026.5 civil commitment statute does not involve the system of criminal justice that mandates certain constitutional protections. In enacting the statute, the Legislature did not intend to require that persons subject to commitment had the right not to testify. Therefore appellant’s requested instruction was not appropriate.