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SIXTH AMENDMENT

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." U.S. Const. amend. VI.

Guarantee Of Adequate Notice. The Sixth Amendment, which is applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, see In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 273-74 (1948), guarantees a criminal defendant a fundamental right to be clearly informed of the nature and cause of the charges against him. In order to determine whether a defendant has received constitutionally adequate notice, the court looks first to the information. James v. Borg, 24 F.3d 20, 24 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 333 (1994). "The principal purpose of the information is to provide the defendant with a description of the charges against him in sufficient detail to enable him to prepare his defense." Id.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the fundamental right to be clearly informed of the nature and course of the charges in order to permit adequate preparation of a defense. See Sheppard v. Rees, 909 F.2d 1234, 1236 (9th Cir. 1990). The notice provision of the Sixth Amendment is incorporated within the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and is fully applicable to the states. See Gray v. Raines, 662 F.2d 569, 571 (9th Cir. 1991).

An accused has "a fundamental right to be clearly informed of the nature and cause of the charges in order to permit adequate preparation of a defense." Sheppard v. Rees, 909 F.2d 1234, 1236 (9th Cir. 1989). Thus, "Due process entitles an accused to know the charges against which he must defend in order to have a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present a defense and not be taken by surprise at trial." Usher v. Gomez, 775 F. Supp. 1308, 1313 (N.D. Cal. 1991), aff'd, 974 F.2d 1344 (1992), cert. denied 113 S. Ct. 1007 (1993).

The Sixth Amendment, which is applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, see In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257, 273-74 (1948), guarantees a criminal defendant a fundamental right to be clearly informed of the nature and cause of the charges against him. In order to determine whether a defendant has received constitutionally adequate notice, the court looks first to the information. James v. Borg, 24 F.3d 20, 24 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 333 (1994). "The principal purpose of the information is to provide the defendant with a description of the charges against him in sufficient detail to enable him to prepare his defense." Id.

A murder trial is not one of the "games that people play." The due process clause does not serve as an innocent bystander. It acts as the umpire and referee all rolled into one and calls "foul" where rules of fair play are broken. As Justice Scalia noted, paraphrasing the felicitous expression of Justice Holmes seventy years earlier, due process requires the government to "turn square corners." Jones v. Thomas, 491 U.S. 376, 396 (1989)(Scalia, J., dissenting). Society is obliged to prosecute those who break its rules, but society may not break its own rules in the prosecution process.

The U.S. Constitution regulates the division of labor between judge and jury. The Sixth Amendment guarantees "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury . . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court recently declared, "[t]he Constitution gives a criminal defendant the right to have a jury determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt of every element of the crime with which he is charged." United States v. Gaudin, 115 S. Ct. 2310, 2320 (1995); see also Sullivan v. Louisiana, 113 S. Ct. 2078, 2080 (1993); In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364 (1970). While the jury is the arbiter of the facts, the judge is the arbiter of the law: "the judge must be permitted to instruct the jury on the law and to insist that the jury follow his instructions." Gaudin, 115 S. Ct. at 2315 (citing Sparf & Hansen v. United States, 156 U.S. 51, 105-06 (1895)). However, the jury has a constitutional responsibility "not merely to determine the facts, but to apply the law to those facts and draw the ultimate conclusion of guilt or innocence." Id. at 2316.

In Gaudin, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the long-standing rule that juries have the constitutional duty to decide mixed questions of law and fact, 115 S. Ct. at 2314, and held that whether a matter is material is such a mixed question. Id. at 2320.

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