Reversed child molest case for violation of right to cross: 5yo c/w refuses to answer questions

18 Mar

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Wow.  5 year old child molest complaining witness refuses to answer over 150 defense questions which the Court of Appeal held to be “substantive.”  Conviction reversed (D sentenced to 15-life.).  Important case on the right to confront and cross witnesses under  novel circumstances, with few cases on point, as noted in the opinion.  And, a shout out to a kind defense attorney.

The Court:

“Here, daughter refused to answer hundreds of questions, of which approximately 150 were substantive. And nothing about her lack of cooperation can be attributed to the trial court, prosecutor, or defense counsel, all of whom took laudable measures to try to make it easier for her to testify. These measures included having daughter testify by closed-circuit television, taking frequent recesses during daughter’s testimony and breaking early, allowing daughter to move about, draw, and eat while testifying, and questioning daughter gently and at length on safe but irrelevant topics. The trial court and defense counsel also both encouraged the prosecutor’s efforts in urging daughter to cooperate, and defense counsel tried to build rapport with daughter rather than to antagonize her.”

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