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Name: People v. Rios
Case #: F050057
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/07/2007
Summary

CALCRIM jury instructions were not materially different from previous CALJIC instructions, and did not mislead the jury. Appellant was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and personal use of a weapon. On appeal, he challenged language in CALCRIM 220 which requires the jury to “compare and consider” all the evidence, arguing that it impermissibly shifts the burden of proof to the defense by allowing the jury to hold against the defense in the absence of defense evidence. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the language used in CALCRIM 220 is not materially different than that which was used in CALJIC 2.90 and approved by the United States Supreme Court in Victor v. Nebraska. Appellant also argued that language in CALCRIM 372 absent from analogous CALJIC 2.52 allowing the jury to infer from his flight after the crime that he was “aware of his guilt” impermissibly presumed the existence of guilt and lowered the prosecutor’s burden of proof. The appellate court rejected this argument as well, finding the instruction not materially different from CALJIC 2.52 which has passed constitutional muster. Finally, appellant argued that language in CALCRIM 3471 allowing the use of deadly force in self defense without withdrawal from the fight if the defendant started the fight using nondeadly force violated his right to due process, confrontation, and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He argued that the language appears to add a requirement that the defendant have started the fight in order for the principle to apply. The court found the paragraph in question irrelevant here. There was little evidence of self defense, and the jury necessarily rejected it when they found appellant guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Defense counsel argued accurately at sentencing that the crime was the heat of passion kind. Instructions on self-defense simply reflected an abundance of caution by the court.