California Penal Code Section 1181(6) - Interpretation

In People v. Watson (1983) 150 Cal.App.3d 313 (disapproved on other grounds in People v. Sanchez (2001) 24 Cal.4th 983, 991, fn. 3), the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's decision to modify the jury's second degree murder verdicts under Penal Code section 1181, subdivision (6) by reducing them to convictions for the lesser included felony of vehicular manslaughter. The trial court had determined that the jury's finding of implied malice could not be sustained due to matters not brought to the attention of the jury. The appellate court reversed on the grounds that the trial court, proceeding under section 1181, subdivision (6), was limited to the evidence, and ought not to have considered judicially noticed matters which were not before the jury: "Here the court exceeded the bounds of its supervisory capacity over the jury's function and transcended the limits of the power of review conferred by section 1181, subdivision (6), by reweighing the evidence in the light of judicially noticed facts which were not before the jury." (Id. at p. 319.)