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Name: People v. Pierce
Case #: C053995
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/24/2009

The phrase, “abiding conviction,” as contained in Penal Code section 1096 and CALCRIM 220, defining reasonable doubt, adequately defines the requirement of a lasting, permanent, fixed and settled belief, and needs no elaboration. During closing arguments, defense counsel argued that the jury’s conviction must be something that would last into the future and not be questioned the next day. The prosecution objected that this was a misstatement of the law and the trial court directed defense counsel to restate the law. On rebuttal, the prosecution, quoting CALCRIM 220, disputed defense counsel’s claim as to the need for a permanent belief extending into the future. The appellate court rejected appellant’s claim that the jury thereby received an inaccurate definition of standard of proof in that it was led to believe the concept of “an abiding conviction” did not require a sense of permanence, finding that the term “abiding” is self-evident and needs no elaboration or definition. The jury need only have a settled and fixed and lasting and permanent belief in its finding, one that would not change through the end of trial when the verdict is rendered in open court. The possibility that the juror learns something after the trial that impacts on his conviction is irrelevant.