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The second criterion, addressing whether the gang enhancement is so inflammatory as to prejudice the jury’s consideration of the underlying charge, requires consideration of the nature of the evidence the People will introduce to prove the enhancement.  This includes the nature and gravity of the predicate offenses used to prove the existence of a criminal street gang, whether the defendant personally committed the predicate offenses, evidence related to the defendant’s gang moniker or tattoos and the prejudicial impact of gang expert testimony.  As was seen in this case, the gang expert testified gang members are criminals who commit serious and violent crimes as a way of life.

The third Williams criterion, as modified for the purpose of considering requests for bifurcation, is whether a joint trial of a criminal street gang enhancement and the underlying offense would have the same effect as joinder of a “weak” case with a “strong” case.  If the spillover effect of gang enhancement evidence will prejudice the defendant’s right to a fair trial on the charged offense, bifurcation may be appropriate.  (See Williams v. Superior Court, supra, 36 Cal.3d at pp. 452-454.)  

If consideration of the foregoing factors, as well as any other pertinent circumstances presented by the individual case, will compromise the defendant’s right to a fair trial, the request for bifurcation should be granted.

    f.  Considerations of judicial economy not determinative.

The People argue a unitary trial avoids the expenditure of funds and judicial resources that bifurcation requires and these favorable benefits of a joint trial must be considered by the trial court.  (People v. Bean (1988) 46 Cal.3d 919, 936; People v. Balderas, supra, 41 Cal.3d at p. 173.)  Granted, bifurcation of criminal street gang enhancements results in the inconvenience of a second separate phase of the trial.  However, if limited to appropriate cases, bifurcation of criminal street gang enhancements will not cause any more disruption to the orderly administration of justice than trials involving bifurcation of prior conviction allegations, which occur on a regular basis.  

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