Monday, May 07, 2012

People v. Dunn (Cal. Ct. App. - May 7, 2012)

If you give an eight-year old syphilis, you may well go to jail for 25 years to life.  At least down here in San Diego.

I won't comment much on syphilis counting as "great bodily injury" notwithstanding the fact that we're no longer in the seventeenth century and accordingly can successfully treat it relatively easily.  The term "great bodily injury" essentially means "any bodily injury" here in California; so much so that defendant does not even contest the point.  Words can sometimes mean the exact opposite of what normal people think they might mean.  Such is the case here.

The only reason the case is worthy of mention -- other than serving as a valuable reminder not to molest children -- is because the defendant's principal contention on appeal is that a mistrial should have been declared because his retained expert witness, Dr. Lynne Ticson, didn't show up for the trial.  What kind of expert witness accepts a case and then says "Oh, well, sorry, I'm not going to be able to make it; I'm on vacation that day?"  Especially in a case in which the defendant faces exposure of 25 to life?  Seriously?

Plus, I get that Dr. Ticson allegedly gave defense counsel the runaround (not answering the phone, etc.), but what kind of defense lawyer refuses to respond to these events by (1) not serving a subpoena on the expert, and/or (2) asking for a continuance from the trial court?  Seems to me like these are two fairly obvious solutions.

I agree with the Court of Appeal that there's no reason to reverse the conviction here.  But that doesn't mean that what transpired below wasn't -- let's put it nicely -- suboptimal.  Because it was.

To reiterate:  Don't molest children.  Don't give them syphilis.  Understood?