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Showing posts from October, 2006

Court of Appeals affirms finding that a defendant police officer violated the due process rights of victims that he sexually assaulted

United States v. Guidry
2006 WL 1991258
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

After being convicted of (1) deprivation of civil rights by kidnapping, (2) violation of constitutional rights to bodily integrity by sexual assault, (3) carrying a firearm during and in relation to the sexual assault, and (4) conspiring to deprive five women of their due process right to bodily integrity, the defendant police officer argued on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he conspired to deprive the victims of their due process rights.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, reasoning as follows:

“Government officers violate another’s substantive due process rights when their actions can properly be characterized as arbitrary, or conscience shocking, in a constitutional sense.”

This Court determined that the evidence was sufficient after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution and found that a jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defend…

Court affirms trial court's discretion in closing the courtroom during a child witness's testimony

Purvis v. Crosby
2006 WL 1525931 (C.A. 11 (Fla.))
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

After being convicted of capital sexual battery on a child under twelve in violation of Florida Statute §794.011 (2)(a); sexual activity with a child twelve years or older by a person in familial or custodial authority using digital penetration in violation of §794.011 (8)(b); and sexual activity with a child twelve years or older using penile union with her vagina, in violation of §794.011 (8)(b); the defendant argued on appeal that his due process rights were violated when the trial judge closed the courtroom to the public during part of the child victim’s testimony and that he was prejudiced by his attorney’s failure to object to the closure.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed reasoning as follows:

Closing of the courtroom is appropriate because “although a public trial is a fundamental, constitutional right, the State, in the instant case, was seeking to close the trial in a …

Child molestation conviction turns on child testimony - if child is determined available by the court, their deposition testimony will not be admitted

Howard v. State
2006 Ind. LEXIS 792
Supreme Court of Indiana

After being convicted of child molesting, the defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erroneously admitted the pre-trial deposition testimony of a child witness who refused to testify further at the trial because (1) the child was not unavailable to testify at trial within the meaning of Crawford and (2) he was denied the right of cross-examination as required by Crawford.

The Supreme Court of Indiana agreed, setting aside the conviction and remanding the cause for further proceedings.

Because Crawford did not define “Unavailability” as to a witness, the Supreme Court of Indiana referred to its Fowler decision in which it held that “a witness who takes the stand but refuses to answer questions, with no claim of privilege, is “available” until she refuses to answer questions after being ordered to do so.” The Court also deferred to Indiana's Protected Person Statute which provides that a “determination that a child w…

Court determines that witness cannot be cross-examined on mental illness that does not affect ability to perceive events in question

People v. Kennaley
2006 Cal. App. LEXIS 8822
Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Four

After being convicted of felony assault with intent to commit rape and misdemeanor indecent exposure, the defendant argued on appeal that his constitutional rights were violated because the trial court limited the cross-examination of the complaining witness and her grandmother regarding the complaining witness’s mental health.

The California Court of Appeals disagreed reasoning as follows:

"It is true, as defendant argues, that 'mental illness or emotional instability of a witness can be relevant on the issue of credibility, and a witness may be cross-examined on that subject, if such illness affects the witness's ability to perceive, recall or describe the events in question.'" (People v. Gurule, 28 Cal. 4th 557, 591-592). However, the court reasoned that this principle didn't apply in this case because there was no factual basis for asserting tha…

Witness testimony admitted as exception to hearsay rule

Medina v. State of Nevada
2006 WL 2830167 (Nev.)
Supreme Court of Nevada

After being convicted by a jury of five counts of sexual assault of a victim 65 years or older, one count of batter with intent to commit a crime, victim 65 years or older, and one count of first-degree kidnapping of a victim 65 years or older, the defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erroneously admitted hearsay testimony of a neighbor who discovered the victim at the victim’s home a day after the rape and to whom the victim recounted the details of the rape and the testimony of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who examined the victim.

The Supreme Court of Nevada disagreed reasoning as follows:

Hearsay is admissible if it falls within one of the exceptions to the general rule. Here, the admitted testimony falls within the “excited utterance” exception. “An excited utterance is a statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused b…