Death Sentence for Murdering a Peace Officer in California

In People v. Brown (1988) 46 Cal.3d 432, the defendant was sentenced to death following his conviction of murder with the special circumstance of intentionally killing a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties. ( 190.2, subd. (a)(7).) The court had instructed the jury that " 'a Garden Grove Regular Police Officer and a Garden Grove Reserve Police Officer are peace officers.' " (Brown, at p. 443.) The Supreme Court in Brown distinguished Figueroa as follows: "We held in Figueroa the court erred in instructing that particular promissory notes at issue in that case were securities as a matter of law. As noted, the court here did not instruct the jury that Officer Reed was a peace officer as a matter of law; it merely instructed pursuant to the unquestionable and clear terms of the relevant statutes that Garden Grove police officers are peace officers." (Brown, at p. 444, fn. 6.) "The jury was left to make all essential factual determinations, including whether the victim was a Garden Grove police officer." (Id. at pp. 443-444; see also People v. James (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 244, 271-273 instruction that manufacturing methamphetamine is an inherently dangerous felony did not take issue of fact away from the jury, which was still required to find every element of the crime.)