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Name: People v. Pollock
Case #: S040471
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/17/2004
Subsequent History: Cert. den. 1/10/05

The court did not err in excluding the testimony of a drug-addiction expert in the guilt phase of a prosecution for capital murder. The defendant argued that the court violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments in excluding certain testimony by his only guilt-phase witness, an expert who would have testified regarding the effect of the defendant’s drug addiction on his ability to control his actions at the time of the offense. The expert was permitted to testify in general terms about the effects of drug addiction on behavior, but the trial court excluded his testimony on defendant’s own mental state because the expert had not examined the defendant at the time in question. The Supreme Court held that the exclusion did not violate state evidentiary rules or federal constitutional requirements. Further, the court did not err in instructing the jury on the mental states required for felony murder in the commission of robbery and burglary. The defendant objected to the instructions stating or implying that the only mental state necessary for felony murder was the specific intent required for the underlying felony. The defendant argued that the specific intent to commit the underlying felony means a specific intent to commit the crime as a whole, or to commit each element of the underlying felony, not simply the specific intent required to sustain a conviction of the underlying felony. The court rejected this argument as contrary to law. Finally, the court found that the instructions given under CALJIC 3.31 and 8.21 were sufficient to apprise the jury that to be guilty of felony murder in the commission of robbery or burglary, the defendant must have formed the intent to steal before or during rather than after the application of force to the victim, and the court had no sua sponte duty to give a more specific instruction.