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Name: People v. Muniz
Case #: E049333
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/31/2011
Subsequent History: 12/14/11 rev. granted (S196916)

The term “abiding” in the reasonable doubt instruction defines itself and does not require elaboration or clarification by the trial court. The trial court pre-instructed on reasonable doubt during voir dire, and elaborated on the term “abiding,” stating that it means a long-lasting belief, one that the juror will be comfortable with in the future. This was the court’s only reference to “abiding,” with all other instruction being that of the standard reasonable doubt instruction, without elaboration. The appellate court found that under these circumstances, there is no reasonable likelihood that the jury misapplied the instruction, but noted that when instructing on the reasonable doubt instruction, the better practice for any trial judge is to “Let it be.”

Misdemeanor vandalism involves moral turpitude. Appellant was impeached with prior conduct involving misdemeanor vandalism. The court found that misdemeanor vandalism involves moral turpitude as does felony vandalism. In People v. Campbell (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1488, the court held that felony vandalism involved moral turpitude as it required maliciousness. In the instant case, the reasoning of Campbell applies to misdemeanor vandalism because in 2002, when appellant committed his act of misdemeanor vandalism (spray painting graffiti on an overpass), the misdemeanor statute also required maliciousness.