People v. Lanphear, Cr. 22458

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtGRODIN; BIRD; MOSK
Citation203 Cal.Rptr. 122,36 Cal.3d 163,680 P.2d 1081
Parties, 680 P.2d 1081 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Ronald Eugene LANPHEAR, Defendant and Appellant. In re Ronald Eugene LANPHEAR on Habeas Corpus. r. 22916.
Decision Date04 June 1984
Docket NumberCr. 22458,C

Page 122

203 Cal.Rptr. 122
36 Cal.3d 163, 680 P.2d 1081
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Ronald Eugene LANPHEAR, Defendant and Appellant.
In re Ronald Eugene LANPHEAR on Habeas Corpus.
Cr. 22458, Cr. 22916.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
June 4, 1984.
Rehearing Denied July 12, 1984.

Page 123

[36 Cal.3d 164] [680 P.2d 1082] Edward H. Schulman, Deputy Public Defender, Los Angeles, for defendant and appellant.

Jay M. Bloom, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Diego, for plaintiff and respondent.

GRODIN, Justice.

Defendant appeals from a judgment entered on a jury verdict imposing the penalty of death. This appeal is automatic. (Pen.Code, [36 Cal.3d 165] § 1239, subd. (b).) At a prior trial defendant was convicted and sentenced to death for murder with special circumstances in that the murder was willful, deliberate, and premeditated, and personally committed during the commission of a robbery (former Pen.Code, § 190.2, subd. (c)(3)(i)) and the jury fixed the penalty at death. On appeal this court reversed the judgment as to penalty only. (People v. Lanphear (1980) 26 Cal.3d 814, 163 Cal.Rptr. 601, 608 P.2d 689.)

In this appeal, which we have consolidated with a petition for writ of habeas corpus in which defendant challenges only the instant penalty trial, several claims of error are made. We need consider only one--that the judgment must be reversed because of an erroneous jury instruction not to consider sympathy. In this respect the instruction and potential prejudice are indistinguishable from People v. Easley (1983) 34 Cal.3d 858, 196 Cal.Rptr. 309, 671 P.2d 813, which controls this appeal and compels reversal of the judgment.

In introductory remarks to the prospective jurors during the voir dire, the court said: "You will be instructed over and over again that you are not to base your decision in this matter on sympathy for the defendant or sympathy for the victim. You are not to base your decision on passion or prejudice or public opinion or public feeling." (Emphasis added.) Later, following the completion of testimony and closing arguments, the court commenced its charge to the jury with CALJIC No. 1.00, which included this admonition: "As jurors, you must not be influenced by pity for a defendant or by prejudice against him. You must not be swayed by mere sentiment, conjecture, sympathy, passion, prejudice, public opinion, or public feeling." (Emphasis added.) As we concluded in Easley, federal constitutional law forbids an instruction which denies a capital defendant the right to have the jury consider any "sympathy factor" raised by the evidence when determining the appropriate penalty. (34 Cal.3d 858, 876, 196 Cal.Rptr. 309, 671 P.2d 813.) The trial court erred, therefore, in instructing in the language of CALJIC No. 1.00 in this penalty trial.

The People contend that any prejudicial effect of these instructions was dispelled

Page 124

[680 P.2d 1083] by (1) the instruction, given as part of former CALJIC No. 8.88.1 (1978) (predecessor of CALJIC No. 8.84.1) that in determining the penalty, the jury should "consider all the evidence which has been received during the trial" and (2) the following special instructions which were given at the request of defendant:

"Aggravating circumstances are circumstances attending the commission of the crime which increases [sic] its guilt or enormity, or adds [sic] to its injurious consequences, but which is [sic] above and beyond the essential constituents of the crime itself. [p] Mitigating circumstances are circumstances[36 Cal.3d 166] that do not constitute a justification or excuse of the offense in question, but which, in fairness and mercy, must be considered in extenuating or reducing the degree of moral culpability. [p] In deciding whether the Defendant should be sentenced to death or to life in prison without the possibility of parole, you must weigh the mitigating circumstances against the aggravating circumstances that you find to be established by the evidence." (Emphasis added.)

We rejected a similar argument in Easley where the same instruction that sympathy should not influence the verdict was given, pointing out that under controlling federal precedent instructions must eliminate " 'any legitimate basis for finding ambiguity concerning the factors actually considered by [the sentencing body in imposing a judgment of death].' " (34 Cal.3d 858, 879, 196 Cal.Rptr. 309, 671 P.2d 813.) Here, as in Easley, the jury was not instructed that it could consider any aspect of the defendant's character or background in determining whether death was the appropriate penalty. Rather the extenuation instructions given suggested that only circumstances that lessen moral culpability are to be considered. That error was compounded by the repeated admonition that the jury should not be influenced by pity or sympathy for the defendant.

Sympathy is not itself a mitigating "factor" or "circumstance," but an emotion. Recognition that a jury's exercise of sentencing discretion in a capital case may be influenced by a sympathetic response to mitigating evidence is entirely consistent with that observation. The jury is permitted to consider mitigating evidence relating to the defendant's character and background precisely because that evidence may arouse "sympathy" or "compassion" for the defendant.

Using the term "sympathy factor" in Easley and in People v. Robertson (1982) 33 Cal.3d 21, 58, 188 Cal.Rptr. 77, 655 P.2d 279, as a shorthand reference to the range of mitigating factors or circumstances which the jury must be permitted to consider, we explained that both California precedent and controlling decisions of the United States Supreme Court not only permit, but mandate freedom on the part of the jury to act on the basis of sympathy or compassion when that sympathy is a reaction to evidence regarding the defendant's character or background. That evidence, as distinguished from mitigating circumstances related to the offense itself, may not reduce culpability, but it must nonetheless be considered by the jury. (Eddings v. Oklahoma (1982) 455 U.S. 104, 113-115, 102 S.Ct. 869, 875-876, 71 L.Ed.2d 1.) It necessarily follows that the jury must be free to respond to it.

Eddings and Lockett v. Ohio (1978) 438 U.S. 586, 98 S.Ct. 2954, 57 L.Ed.2d 973 "make it clear that in a capital case the defendant is constitutionally[36 Cal.3d 167] entitled to have the sentencing body...

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46 practice notes
  • People v. Hernandez, No. S004559
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 28, 1988
    ...trial might be required. (Easley, supra, 34 Cal.3d at pp. 875-880, 196 Cal.Rptr. 309, 671 P.2d 813; see also People v. Lanphear (1984) 36 Cal.3d 163, 165-169, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d 1081.) But even where an antisympathy instruction has not been given at the penalty phase, the ambiguity......
  • People v. Ledesma, No. S014394.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 17, 2006
    ...from considering and giving effect to the full range of permissible mitigating evidence. Defendant relies upon People v. Lanphear (1984) 36 Cal.3d 163, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d 1081 (Lanphear), in which we reversed the death sentence because of instructions that explicitly precluded the ......
  • People v. Lucky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 16, 1988
    ...to 'weigh' those factors, and told it to determine the penalty on the basis of the weight assigned. Thus, as in People v. Lanphear [1984] 36 Cal.3d 163, 168, fn. 1, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d 1081, 'the instructions suggest to the jury that mitigating evidence relevant to the defendant's c......
  • People v. Odle
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 19, 1988
    ...argument in the circumstances than an argument based on extenuation of only one of the two murders. (See People v. Lanphear (1984) 36 Cal.3d 163, 168, fn. 1, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d I conclude that the prosecutor's argument in the absence of a clarifying instruction improperly precluded......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
46 cases
  • People v. Hernandez, No. S004559
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 28, 1988
    ...trial might be required. (Easley, supra, 34 Cal.3d at pp. 875-880, 196 Cal.Rptr. 309, 671 P.2d 813; see also People v. Lanphear (1984) 36 Cal.3d 163, 165-169, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d 1081.) But even where an antisympathy instruction has not been given at the penalty phase, the ambiguity......
  • People v. Ledesma, No. S014394.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 17, 2006
    ...from considering and giving effect to the full range of permissible mitigating evidence. Defendant relies upon People v. Lanphear (1984) 36 Cal.3d 163, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d 1081 (Lanphear), in which we reversed the death sentence because of instructions that explicitly precluded the ......
  • People v. Lucky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 16, 1988
    ...to 'weigh' those factors, and told it to determine the penalty on the basis of the weight assigned. Thus, as in People v. Lanphear [1984] 36 Cal.3d 163, 168, fn. 1, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d 1081, 'the instructions suggest to the jury that mitigating evidence relevant to the defendant's c......
  • People v. Odle
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 19, 1988
    ...argument in the circumstances than an argument based on extenuation of only one of the two murders. (See People v. Lanphear (1984) 36 Cal.3d 163, 168, fn. 1, 203 Cal.Rptr. 122, 680 P.2d I conclude that the prosecutor's argument in the absence of a clarifying instruction improperly precluded......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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