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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Ricko Deshawn Holland contended that the trial court committed reversible error by giving the jury a definition of reasonable doubt during the trial court’s opening remarks. After the jury was sworn, but prior to Holland’s plea and before counsels’ opening statements, the court addressed the jurors and provided these instructions: “You were provided a couple of issues of the law today, and I want to go over some of the more important ones. The burden of proof in this case rests solely on the State of Texas throughout this trial. Never at any time does it shift to the defendant. The State of Texas must prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. “A reasonable doubt is a doubt based on reason and common sense after a careful and impartial consideration of all of the evidence in the case. It is the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate. . .” Holland’s attorney interrupted, objecting to the court’s providing the jury with a definition of reasonable doubt. The trial court overruled the objection and then proceeded to define reasonable doubt as “the kind of doubt that would make a reasonable person hesitate to act in the most important of his or her own affairs.” After opening statements, but before the presentation of evidence, the trial court addressed the jury again and stated that although the trial court had provided the jury a definition of reasonable doubt earlier that morning, the “better practice is to give no definition of reasonable doubt at all to a jury.” The trial court explained that “the definition of reasonable doubt will be something that will be best left to your common sense.” The trial court clarified that the jurors should disregard the earlier instruction as to reasonable doubt and instructed the jury to use their common sense in determining the definition of reasonable doubt. Holland then moved for a mistrial, which the trial court overruled. The written jury charge contained no definition of reasonable doubt. The jury convicted Holland of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced him to 10 years of imprisonment and assessed a fine of $10,000. Holland appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. Holland argued that under the CCA’s 2000 decision Paulson v. State, the trial court committed reversible error by providing the jury with an oral definition of reasonable doubt when there was no agreement between Holland and the state to include the definition. The court stated that it did not read Paulson to hold that giving the instruction, in the absence of an agreement between the state and the defense, would constitute reversible error. While the CCA found the better practice is to give no definition of reasonable doubt at all to the jury, the court found no support for Holland’s contention that such a definition has been “specifically and expressly forbidden by the Court of Criminal Appeals.” Paulson, the court stated, was further distinguishable from the facts of Holland’s case. In this case, the court stated, the only time the trial court provided a definition of reasonable doubt to the jury was during the court’s oral comments to the jury prior to opening statements. Before the presentation of evidence, the trial court orally instructed the jury to disregard the earlier-provided definition of reasonable doubt and to use common sense in determining the definition. An instruction to disregard ordinarily cures error, the court stated. On appeal, the court stated that it generally presumes the jury followed the trial court’s instructions in the manner presented. Holland has provided no rebuttal evidence to the presumption, the court stated. Next, Holland argued that although he requested and received a jury instruction concerning self defense in the abstract portion of the charge, the trial court erred in omitting the instruction in the application portion of the charge over Holland’s objection. Specifically, Holland objected at trial to the court’s insertion of the words “in light of the law on self[-]defense, as instructed herein,” and argued that the statement would cause confusion. Holland requested that the law on self-defense be incorporated as part of the charge and not just in the instructions immediately preceding the charge. On appeal, Holland argued that the charge did not apply the law to the facts in that it did not require the state to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt before allowing the jury to convict Holland. But the court rejected this argument. The words “in light of the law on self[-]defense, as instructed herein,” the court stated, clearly incorporate those instructions into the application paragraph. Absent evidence to the contrary, the court presumed the jury followed and understood the instructions. OPINION:Kreger, J.; McKeithen, C.J., Gaultney and Kreger, JJ.

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