Manic-depressive Criminal Defendant

In People v. Elliot (2005) 37 Cal.4th 453, a defense expert witness (Dr. William Vicary) testified that in his opinion, the defendant was manic-depressive and had an antisocial personality disorder. The expert based his opinion on various sources, including the defendant's statements, which the expert recounted without a hearsay objection by the prosecutor. (Elliot, supra, 37 Cal.4th at p. 480.) Prior to cross-examination, the court queried whether it should instruct with CALJIC No. 2.10. The prosecutor requested the instruction; defense counsel objected. At the conclusion of the penalty portion of the trial, the court instructed with CALJIC No. 2.10. On appeal, the defendant argued the instruction removed mitigating facts from the jury's consideration. (Ibid.) Citing People v. Stanley (1995) 10 Cal.4th 764, the Supreme Court in Elliot noted it had previously concluded otherwise, finding the instruction appropriate except "in rare cases, where due process considerations may override state evidentiary rules so as to 'require admission, at the penalty phase of a capital trial, of a highly relevant and reliable hearsay statement.'" (Elliot, supra, 37 Cal.4th at p. 481.) The court further noted that Stanley had found the statements had no indication of reliability, having been made "'contemporaneously with the criminal proceedings,'" and not to instruct on the limited purpose of the defendant's statements "would allow defendants to insulate factual assertions and self-serving testimony from any cross-examination simply by having an expert relate them to the jury. " (Elliot, supra, 37 Cal.4th at p. 481.) Elliot concluded that the instruction was properly requested and given "to clarify that defendant's statements to Dr. Vicary were to be considered only for the limited purpose of assessing Dr. Vicary's opinion. " (Ibid.) Elliot also rejected the defendant's challenge to a lack of a contemporaneous objection on hearsay grounds, finding the request for the limiting instruction "served the same purpose." (Ibid.) Elliot further concluded that the defendant's statements were not highly relevant and reliable, noting that his statements were made in preparation for trial and even Dr. Vicary described defendant as a liar. (Id. at p. 482.)