People v. Sorrels – Case Brief Summary (California)

In People v. Sorrels (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 1155 Sorrels, the Court of Appeal acknowledged:

"The trial court's reading of a brief overview of the facts before conducting voir dire is commonplace in modern-day trial courts. In fact, judges are encouraged to give such statements to the juries for a number of reasons. First, it serves as a means of giving the jurors an introduction to the case. . . ." (Id. at p. 1164.)

The Sorrels court noted "indeed, the California Standards for Judicial Administration, Standard 4.30, subdivision (b)(8), direct a criminal trial judge during voir dire to inform the jury of the charges against a defendant, and the section of the Penal Code alleged to have been violated. Most importantly, the standard directs the trial judge to 'describe the offenses.' Further, the trial judge is to inform the jury that 'the defendant has pleaded not guilty, and the jury will have to decide whether the defendant's guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.' (Ibid.)" (Ibid.)

In that case, the trial court gave a lengthy factual summary of the crimes.

On appeal, the court found no error. It cited People v. Rodriguez (1986) 42 Cal.3d 730, 766:

"The trial court has sound discretion to summarize the evidence with no limitations on its content or timing so long as it is 'accurate, temperate, nonargumentative, and scrupulously fair.' " (Sorrels, supra, 208 Cal.App.4th at p. 1165.)