People v. Bloyd – Case Brief Summary (California)

In People v. Bloyd (1987) 43 Cal.3d 333, the jury was given CALJIC No. 2.01, an instruction concerning the general sufficiency of circumstantial evidence, and a further instruction based on CALJIC No. 2.02, concerning circumstantial evidence of specific intent. ( People v. Bloyd, supra, at pp. 351-352.) The CALJIC No. 2.02 instruction, however, did not include the phrase "'or mental state'" even though specific intent and mental state were both at issue. ( People v. Bloyd, supra, at pp. 351-352.)

The state Supreme Court found no prejudicial error. ( People v. Bloyd, supra, 43 Cal.3d at p. 352.) The court first noted that the CALJIC No. 2.02 instruction was unnecessary; the instruction was to be given instead of CALJIC No. 2.01, if either specific intent or mental state was the only element supported substantially, or entirely, by circumstantial evidence. (Bloyd, supra, at p. 352.) More significantly, the court held that "the specific question that would have been posed by adding 'or mental state' was presented by the general circumstantial evidence instruction that was given." (Ibid.) The court found no reasonable probability of prejudice to the defendant, emphasizing that the jury had been "twice cautioned on the inferences to be drawn from circumstantial evidence susceptible of two interpretations; it was instructed on the mental states required as elements of the charges and included offenses; it was instructed to consider all instructions as a whole and to regard each in light of others." (Ibid.)