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Name: People v. Thomas
Case #: B190523
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 05/02/2007
Summary

Use of CALJIC jury instructions rather than CALCRIM instructions does not constitute structural error. Although California Rules of Court, rule 2.1050 strongly encourages the use of approved Judicial Council instructions, no statute, Rule of Court, or case mandates the use of any particular instruction over another. In selecting the instruction to be used, the court must determine if it correctly states the law and does not hopelessly confuse the jury. At the jury trial for the 1981 murder in this case, the court used CALJIC instructions rather than CALCRIM, even though the California Judicial Council had withdrawn its endorsement of CALJIC. Because the relevant instructions under both systems adequately instructed the jury, the court did not err. Even if it did, the error is judged under a harmless error analysis and no prejudice was shown.