California Jury Instructions (CALJIC) 17.41.1
CALJIC No. 17.41.1, as given by the court, instructed:
"The integrity of a trial requires that jurors at all times during their deliberations conduct themselves as required by these instructions. Accordingly, should it occur that any juror refuses to deliberate or expresses an intention to disregard the law or to decide the case based on penalty or punishment or any other improper basis, then it is the obligation of the other jurors to immediately advise the Court of the situation."
In People v. Engelman (2002) 28 Cal.4th 436, the defendant contended that an instruction pursuant to CALJIC No. 17.41.1 impaired the free and private exchange of views that is an essential feature of the right to jury trial guaranteed by the federal and California Constitutions, that it encroached on his state constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict, including the right to the independent and impartial decision of each juror, and that it violated his federal constitutional right to due process of law in that it arbitrarily deprived him of a state entitlement.
The California Supreme Court rejected these claims.
As the court explained: "We are not persuaded that, merely because CALJIC No. 17.41.1 might induce a juror who believes there has been juror misconduct to reveal the content of deliberations unnecessarily (or threaten to do so), the giving of the instruction constitutes a violation of the constitutional right to trial by jury or otherwise constitutes error under state law." (Engelman, supra, 28 Cal.4th at p. 444.)
The court in Engelman also rejected the defendant's claim based on the state constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict and to the independent and impartial decision of each juror, finding that "the instructions as a whole fully informed the jury of its duty to reach a unanimous verdict based upon the independent and impartial decision of each juror. The defendant's state constitutional right to a unanimous verdict is not violated when that right has been explained to the jury and an instruction gives rise to a risk that jurors might be encouraged to exert pressure on each other by threatening to bring in the court to mediate disputes among jurors." (Engelman, supra, 28 Cal.4th at p. 444, citing CALJIC Nos. 17.40 & 17.50.)
The court concluded that "the instruction does not infringe upon defendant's federal or state constitutional right to trial by jury or his state constitutional right to a unanimous verdict." (Id. at pp. 439-440.) Engelman thus resolves defendant's federal and state claims with respect to CALJIC No. 17.41.1.
The Court disapproved of the trial court giving CALJIC No. 17.41.1, but found that the instruction did not rise to the level of constitutional error. It held that "the instruction does not infringe upon a defendant's federal or state constitutional right to trial by jury or his state constitutional right to a unanimous verdict . . . ." (Id. at pp. 439-440.) This court, bound by the principle of stare decisis, must follow that ruling. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450.)
As to the argument that CALJIC No. 17.41.1 infringes the jury's power of nullification, it is without merit in light of People v. Williams (2001) 25 Cal.4th 441, 449-463.
The court in Williams declared: "Jury nullification is contrary to our ideal of equal justice for all and permits both the prosecution's case and the defendant's fate to depend upon the whims of a particular jury, rather than upon the equal application of settled rules of law. . . ." (Id. at p. 463.)
The court explained that, although the possibility of jury nullification exists because of certain procedural aspects of our criminal justice system, a defendant does not have a constitutional right to that possibility. (Id. at pp. 449-451.)