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Name: People v. Sorrels et al.
Case #: B224166
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 08/24/2012

The trial court did not err by providing an objective description of the offense to be tried, which included admonitions that the statement was not evidence and the prosecution had the burden of proof, to prospective jurors at the beginning of voir dire. Appellants were convicted of murder and various firearm and gang enhancements were found true. On appeal, they contended that the trial court committed misconduct by reading a statement over defense objections describing the offense to prospective jurors at the beginning of voir dire. According to appellants, the statement amounted to a second opening statement on behalf of the prosecution, focused on details favorable to the prosecution, and allowed the jury to prejudge the case. The Court of Appeal found no error. The California Standards for Judicial Administration direct the giving of such a statement. The statement serves as an introduction to the case, encourages prospective jurors to serve, assists the parties in conducting voir dire, and instructs the jurors as to legal principals they must observe. Further, under People v. Rodriguez (1986) 42 Cal.3d 730, the trial court has discretion to summarize evidence with no limitations on content or timing, as long as the summary is accurate, temperate, nonargumentative, and scrupulously fair. Here, the trial court did not err by reading an overview of the facts of the case.