CALJIC 4.10 - Interpretation

In People v. Huggins (2006) 38 Cal.4th 175, the California Supreme Court held that the omission of the conjunction "and" in CALJIC No. 4.10, the instruction on mental competence, was a minor deviation from the text of the standard instruction that did not materially alter the instruction's meaning. (Huggins, supra, at p. 192.) the court also concluded that the minor variation did not infringe on the defendant's due process rights in view of the context of the overall charge. That is, the trial court did not speak in the disjunctive, the jury instruction was correct, and defense counsel did not object. The court concluded there was no likelihood that the minor departure by the trial court from the language of the standard instruction caused the jury to misunderstand its duties in a manner that denied the defendant his due process rights. (Id. at p. 193.) CALJIC No. 4.10 at the time stated: "'Although on some subjects his mind may be deranged or unsound, a person charged with a criminal offense is deemed mentally competent to be tried for the crime charged against him: '1. If he is capable of understanding the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him; and '2. If he comprehends his own status and condition in reference to such proceedings; and '3. If he is able to assist his attorney in conducting his defense to conduct his own defense in a rational manner.'" (Huggins, supra, 38 Cal.4th at p. 189.)