Chapter 2 - §9. Jury views

JurisdictionUnited States

§9. Jury views

In some situations, the court may permit the jury to view the crime scene where the charged offense took place "or in which any other material fact occurred, or [view] any personal property which has been referred to in the evidence and cannot conveniently be brought into the courtroom." Pen. C. §1119. A jury view is considered a form of demonstrative evidence. See, e.g., People v. Steskal (2021) 11 Cal.5th 332, 354-56 (six minute jury view on court premises of bullet-riddled patrol car "highly relevant" to show manner, volume, and aim of shots directed at officer from close range and support conclusion that killing was deliberate); People v. Garcia (2005) 36 Cal.4th 777, 791 (jury view of crime scene that was made to look like it did on day of victim's death was intended to help jury understand substantive evidence). But because the definition of "evidence" under Evid. C. §140 includes jury views, the information the trier of fact gains during a jury view constitutes independent evidence on which a finding can be made by the trier of fact. See 7 Cal. Law Revision Comm'n Rep. (1965) p. 1031.

§9.1. Foundational requirements. As with other forms of demonstrative evidence, the proponent of a jury view must establish that the view is (1) relevant (i.e., would help the trier of fact) and (2) a reasonable representation of the real evidence that it is portraying. See "Demonstrative evidence," ch. 2, §4. Some of the factors the court can consider in deciding whether to permit a jury view are whether the current conditions at the crime scene will be substantially the same as they were at the time of the alleged crime, whether there is other evidence that sufficiently describes the scene (e.g., testimony, photographs), and whether there are practical difficulties in conducting the view (e.g., security, transportation, costs). People v. Jones (2011) 51 Cal.4th 346, 378; People v. Price (1991) 1 Cal.4th 324, 422. The court has broad discretion to allow a jury view, but as a practical matter it will often be severely scrutinized due to transportation difficulties and the risk of exposing the jury to inadmissible evidence. When other measures (e.g., maps or diagrams) would be more functional and convenient, and at the same time help mitigate security concerns, a request for a jury view will often be denied. See People v. Fudge (1994) 7 Cal.4th 1075, 1104-05; see also Price, 1 Cal.4th at 422 (court will consider "whether there are other means of testing...

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