Admissibility of Capacity Evidence In California

In People v. Lynn, 159 Cal. App. 3d 715, the court opined: "The exclusion of the capacity evidence represented by sections 22, 28 and 29 is not of constitutional dimension. It is 'nothing more than a legislative determination that for reasons of reliability or public policy, "capacity" evidence is inadmissible'. The enactment neither prevented [the defendant] from disproving the mental state necessary to the charges nor deprived him of his constitutional right to require the People to prove every fact necessary to constitute the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. "We observe it has recently been held there is no due process impediment in the substantive statutory definition of felony murder which omits malice as an element of that crime. The deletion of malice gives rise to no presumption which must pass due process muster. It occurs to us that if the Legislature may constitutionally delete malice as an element of felony murder, it may also constitutionally delete diminished capacity as a defense to crimes requiring particular mental states. In both cases, we are dealing with a matter of substantive statutory definition. In neither case is there a presumption involved that must withstand constitutional due process scrutiny because of its burden shifting effect." ( People v. Lynn, supra, 159 Cal. App. 3d at pp. 732-733; see also People v. Saille, supra, 54 Cal. 3d at p. 1116 [abolition of diminished capacity defense and limitation of admissible evidence to actual formation of various mental states does not violate due process right to present a defense].) The Legislature's amendment to section 22 is closely analogous to its abrogation of the defense of diminished capacity.