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NCJ Number: 51361 Find in a Library
Title: CALIFORNIA RAPE EVIDENCE REFORM - AN ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL 1678
Journal: HASTINGS LAW JOURNAL  Volume:26  Issue:6  Dated:(MAY 1975)  Pages:1551-1573
Author(s): T E MCDERMOTT
Corporate Author: University of California
Hastings College of Law
United States of America
Date Published: 1975
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: University of California
San Francisco, CA 94102
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE RAPE EVIDENCE LAW IS EXAMINED TO DETERMINE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE BILL'S SANCTIONS ON ADMISSIBILITY OF THE VICTIM'S PRIOR SEXUAL CONDUCT AS CREDIBILITY EVIDENCE; AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH IS PROPOSED.
Abstract: A DETAILED STUDY OF THE STRUCTURE OF CALIFORNIA'S SENATE BILL 1678 (S.B. 1678) IS PRESENTED, FOLLOWED BY AN OUTLINE OF POSSIBLE DEFENSE STRATEGEMS THAT COULD BE USED IN A RAPE TRIAL TO ADMIT EVIDENCE OF THE VICTIM'S SEXUAL CONDUCT. ACCORDING TO THE BILL'S NEW SECTION 782, SEXUAL CONDUCT EVIDENCE CAN BE OFFERED ONLY TO ATTACK CREDIBILITY AND NOT CONSENT. IT REQUIRES A SPECIAL PROCEDURE FOR THE ADMISSION OF THE EVIDENCE. THE DEFENDANT MUST DELIVER TO THE COURT AND PROSECUTOR A WRITTEN OFFER OF PROOF, SUPPORTED BY AFFIDAVIT, SHOWING THE RELEVANCY OF THE EVIDENCE; IF THE OFFER IS FOUND TO BE SUFFICIENT, A HEARING IS HELD OUT OF THE PRESENCE OF THE JURY AND THE COMPLAINING WITNESS IS QUESTIONED. CHARACTER EVIDENCE MAY BE INTRODUCED TO ATTACK THE HONESTY OF THE WITNESS, AND THE DEFENSE IS ALLOWED TO IMPEACH A WITNESS BY PROVING THE EXISTENCE OF BIAS, INTEREST, OR MOTIVE TO FABRICATE. THE DEFENSE IS ALSO ENTITLED TO IMPEACH CREDIBILITY BY SPECIFICALLY ATTACKING THE WITNESS'S DIRECT TESTIMONY. SUCH A DEFENSE STRATEGY WOULD EFFECTIVELY NEUTRALIZE THE PROTECTIONS OFFERED IN THE BILL. UNDER A NEW DOCTRINE OF LIMITED ADMISSIBILITY OF THE EVIDENCE CODE, THE TRIAL COURT MUST WEIGH THE ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE AGAINST POLICY CONSIDERATIONS AND DETERMINE WHETHER THE DANGER OF UNDUE PREJUDICE OUTWEIGHS THE PROBATIVE VALUE OF THE EVIDENCE. THIS DOCTRINE ALLOWS THE PROSECUTION TO ATTACK THE PROBATIVE VALUE OF EVIDENCE AND TO MAINTAIN THAT EVIDENCE SHOULD BE EXCLUDED BECAUSE ADMISSION WOULD VIOLATE THE INTENTIONS OF THE REFORM BILL. HOWEVER, A COMPLEX PROBLEM ARISES REGARDING THE RIGHT OF A DEFENDANT TO A FULL AND COMPLETE CROSS-EXAMINATION. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT, WHENEVER THERE IS REASONABLY SUFFICIENT CORROBORATING EVIDENCE OF FORCE AND VIOLENCE TO SUPPORT THE VICTIM'S TESTIMONY DENYING CONSENT, THE UNCHASTITY EVIDENCE SHOULD BE INADMISSIBLE. IT IS ALSO SUGGESTED THAT THE LEGISLATURE PROVIDE SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR WEIGHING EVIDENCE WHENEVER THE EVIDENCE OF PRIOR SEXUAL CONDUCT IS OFFERED AND THAT A SCREENING PROCEDURE BE RETAINED WHICH WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO ANY OFFER OF SEXUAL CONDUCT EVIDENCE. (DAG)
Index Term(s): California; Cross-examination; Evidence; Judicial discretion; Law reform; Rape; Rules of evidence; State laws; Testimony
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51361

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