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Name: People v. Singh
Case #: C065808
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/23/2012

Appellant was not denied his Sixth Amendment right to be present at a critical stage of the proceeding when he was not allowed to be present as the jury conducted a reenactment during deliberations. A jury convicted Singh of battering his wife, inflicting great bodily injury. A knife use allegation was found true. On appeal he argued the trial court erred in allowing the jury to reenact the stabbing described by witnesses. However, the jury asked whether it could reenact the stabbing and the defense did not object. Therefore, the issue was forfeited. Appellant also alleged he had a constitutional right to be present during the reenactment. Defendants have a right to be personally present during all critical stages of the proceedings. However, this right does not extend to a particular proceeding “unless his appearance is necessary to prevent interference with his” right to effective cross-examination. Under the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, a defendant has a right to be present at a particular proceeding that is critical to the outcome of the case and his presence would contribute to the fairness of the proceeding. While jury deliberations are a critically important part of the trial, “a criminal defendant does not have a Sixth Amendment right to be personally present during jury deliberations even when the deliberations include reenactment of the circumstances described by testimony at trial.” A jury may use an exhibit admitted into evidence to reenact events described by testimony and a defendant has no right to intrude on jury deliberations simply to observe.