Friday, March 23, 2018

U.S. v. Kootswatewa (9th Cir. - March 23, 2018)

Usually in child molestation cases you get a fairly fact-specific recitation of the underlying offense.  Especially if, as in today's opinion, (1) the legal dispute revolves at least in part around the facts, and (2) the panel's going to end up affirming the conviction.

So it's not surprising that we learn factual details in the opinion about how the defendant, Theodore Kootswatewa, took (or, at the prosecutor said at trial, "lured") an 11-year old girl into a trailer on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona and molested her.

What was somewhat unusual, however, is that the opinion nowhere reveals the defendant's sentence.  Admittedly, there's no challenge to it on appeal.  But usually they put that in.  Similarly, we learn almost nothing from the opinion about the defendant.  Again:  not necessary to the result, but fairly unusual.

And I cared.  So I looked it up.  A task performed fairly easily thanks to Mr. Google and the unusual name of the defendant.

Who, it turns out, as a (then-) 65-year old man.  Who was sentenced to 40 years in prison.  A sentence that perhaps itself not much of a surprise given the nature of the offense and the fact that Mr. Kootswatewa had allegedly previously twice been convicted of sexual contact with a minor.