CALCRIM No. 331. Testimony of Person With Developmental, Cognitive, or Mental Disability

Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2022 edition)

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331.Testimony of Person With Developmental, Cognitive, or
Mental Disability
In evaluating the testimony of a person with a (developmental
disability[,]/ [or] [a] (cognitive[,]/ [or] mental[,]/ [or] communication)
impairment), consider all of the factors surrounding that person’s
testimony, including his or her level of cognitive development.
Even though a person with a (developmental disability[,]/ [or] [a]
(cognitive[,]/ [or] mental[,]/ [or] communication) impairment)[,] may
perform differently as a witness because of his or her level of cognitive
development, that does not mean he or she is any more or less credible
than another witness.
You should not discount or distrust the testimony of a person with a
(developmental disability[,]/ [or] [a] (cognitive[,]/ [or] mental[,]/ [or]
communication) impairment)[,] solely because he or she has such (a/an)
(disability/ [or] impairment).
New January 2006; Revised March 2022
BENCH NOTES
Instructional Duty
This instruction must be given on request in any case “in which a person with a
developmental disability, or cognitive, mental, or communication impairment
testifies as a witness . . . .” (Pen. Code, § 1127g.)
The court should consider whether this instruction is appropriate if the witness has a
communication impairment that is not related to a deficiency in cognitive
functioning. Compare People v. Byers (2021) 61 Cal.App.5th 447, 457-458 [275
Cal.Rptr.3d 661] [approving use of instruction for a nondependent witness] with
People v. Keeper (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 511, 521 [121 Cal.Rptr.3d 451] [holding
that Penal Code section 1127g is limited to a dependent person].
AUTHORITY
Statutory Authority. Pen. Code, § 1127g.
This Instruction Upheld. People v. Catley (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 500,
506-508 [55 Cal.Rptr.3d 786].
SECONDARY SOURCES
5 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Criminal Trial, § 725.
4 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 82,
Witnesses, §§ 82.05[2][a], 82.07, 82.22[3][c] (Matthew Bender).
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