California v. NicolasAnnotate this Case
A jury found defendant Jorene Nicolas guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Defendant was on her phone and texting while driving on the freeway. The victim had been in her car, stalled in a traffic jam. Defendant crashed into the rear of the victim’s car at about 80 miles per hour. In this appeal, defendant claimed: (1) there was insufficient evidence of gross negligence; (2) the trial court committed three separate instructional errors; and (3) the court abused its discretion by imposing an upper term sentence (six years). The Court of Appeal agreed with defendant that the trial court committed three separate instructional errors; one of the errors requires automatic reversal because it had the effect of lowering the prosecution’s burden of proof.