Thursday, August 28, 2014

People v. Garcia (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 28, 2014)

There's so much in this opinion that's really, really good.  As is typical for Justice Bedsworth.  Plus, it involves a fascinating issue -- whether it's relevant in a woman-on-girl molestation trial that the alleged perpetrator is a lesbian -- as well as a scintillating dynamic in this particular case of how the prosecutor used this information notwithstanding the trial judge's reluctance to/instructions about not letting it in.

In short, read the whole thing.  The Court of Appeal reverses the conviction -- though barely, I think -- and remands for a new trial, holding that what transpired here was prejudicial.

As I said, there's much in here with which I profoundly agree.  But let me nonetheless ask Justice Bedsworth (and the rest of the panel) what I think is amongst the hardest questions raised by this holding (though not addressed directly in the opinion):

If, as the Court of Appeal holds, sexual orientation is entirely irrelevant in a molestation trial, does that equally mean that a defendant in such a proceeding similarly has no right to introduce this evidence?  So, for example, if a homosexual male is accused of molesting a 15-year old girl, I take it he's not allowed to introduce any evidence about his exclusive attraction to males, right?  Despite the fact that this evidence may be overwhelming?  Not relevant.  At all.  Jury not permitted to hear it.

Seems troubling, no?