Criminal Law

102. Note-Taking

You have been given notebooks and may take notes during the trial. Do not remove them from the courtroom. You may take your notes into the jury room during deliberations. Here are some points to consider if you take notes:

1. Note-taking may tend to distract you. It may affect your ability to listen carefully to all the testimony and to watch the witnesses as they testify;


2. You may use your notes only to remind yourself of what happened during the trial, but remember, your notes may be inaccurate or incomplete.

I do not mean to discourage you from taking notes. I believe you may find it helpful.

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

There is no sua sponte duty to instruct on note-taking; however, instruction on this topic has been recommended by the Supreme Court. (People v. Morris (1991) 53 Cal.3d 152, 214 [279 Cal.Rptr. 720, 807 P.2d 949], disapproved on other grounds in People v. Stansbury (1995) 9 Cal.4th 824, 830 [38 Cal.Rptr.2d 394, 889 P.2d 588].)


Resolving Jurors' Questions. Pen. Code, § 1137.

Jurors' Use of Notes. People v. Whitt (1984) 36 Cal.3d 724, 746 [205 Cal.Rptr. 810, 685 P.2d 1161].

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Criminal Judgment, § 18.

4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 85, Submission to Jury and Verdict, § 85.05[2] (Matthew Bender).

(New January 2006)