My name is Scott. I work at a small law firm owned by my uncle and am planning on going to law school once I finish college.
I was assigned the task of researching cases involving the use of propensity evidence admitted under California Evidence Code section 1108 for one of our client's cases.
Our client, we'll call him Bob, was accused by his ex-girlfriend of in appropriately touching her younger daughter.
Bob also had a 10 year old conviction for possion of child pornography.
My first thought was, "who the hell would let a pervert like that around their daughter in the first place?"
However, it turns out that the porn was on a computer he sent in to be repaired. He purchased the broken computer with no idea of what was on it.
After his arrest, the subsequent investigation showed no evidence of any other porn, or any evidence at all that he was a pedophile.
Evidence admitted under 1108 is used to show that a defendant has a propensity to commit crimes such as the one he's charged with.
Having possession of pornography that he didn't even know was there in no way shows that Bob had a propensity to molest children.
I thought we were home free until I ran across the case of People vs. Jeff Duffett.
He was also accused of molesting his ex-girlfriend's daughter.
He also had a conviction for possession of child pornography stemming from his work for a defense attorney on cases involving sex crimes. His possession of the pornography was not sexually related either.
But in his case, not only was the evidence that he had a prior conviction admitted at trial, he was not allowed to present any evidence to the jury to explain that his possession of the child pornography was for his job as a sex crimes investigator and not because he was sexually interested in children.
The jury was left to make the obvious connection; that he possessed the porn because he was a pedophile.
Although the jury initially hung, they eventually convicted him.
After trial, the jurrors stated to his defense attorney that they had credibility issues with both victims, but convicted him because of the prior.
When told of the circumstances surrounding the prior, they said that if they had known, they would not have convicted him
The Court of Appeals upheald the trial courts ruling, stating that, even if he was able to rebutt the propensity with evidence that his possession of the pornography was due to his job and not because he was sexually interested in children, allowing him to do so would fly in the face of section 1108 that says that prior convictions can be used to show he had a propensity to molest children.
This not only defies logic, it is contrary to every other published case on the subject, which specifically allows a defendant to rebut propensity evidence if he can.
The fact of a conviction listed in 1108 does not automatically establish a propensity to commit whatever crime one is charged with.
His case is literally the only case in which a defendant was not allowed to rebut 1108 propensity evidence.
You can't trick a jury into thinking someone is a pedophile in order to convict them.
Yet, that is EXACTLY what happened.
I thought my uncle would help him, but when I asked, he said "There is nothing we can do."
Once I finish college, I want to go to law school and become an attorney so I can help people, Even though I am only 19 and not yet an attorney, I am going to try.
I ordered the transcripts of the trial from the court reporter so I could read through the testimony.
As it turns out, the jurrors said on the record they had credibility issues with both the alleged victim's stories and that the prior played a major roll in their decision to convict him. If he had been able to present a defense, he would not have been convicted. It wasn't even close. The jury hung as it was.
After that I contacted the defendant in prison. He supplied me with even more documents and told me his story of the events.
I am probably the only person to have all of that information in the same place at the same time and take the time to review it.
Once I was finished, I was convinced that he not only didn't get a fair trial, but that he also didn't do what he is accused of.
The only way I can help him for now is to tell his story so others can decide for themselves.
I started this blog to do that.