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TURNING CASE WEAKNESSES TO STRENGTHS Robin Sax 310-650-6494 www.robinsax.com. Case Challenges . “Bad” victim Delayed Reporting Lack of physical evidence Inconsistent Statements Reluctant Witness Lack of physical resistance Lack of Scientific Evidence.
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Lack of physical evidence
Lack of physical resistance
Lack of Scientific Evidence
The Victim Interview
Prior Bad Acts/Prior Sexual Assault
Audio and Video Tape of all Interviews
Fresh Complaint Witnesses
What you file is a function of what you want the outcome of the case to be.
. . BUT YOU GET A CHANCE TO INTERVIEW THE VICTIM
Postponing the interview
Review all case information
Consider victim’s demeanor
Anticipate a defense
Select an appropriate location
Discuss who should be present
Offenders often target “imperfect” victims
Reconstruct the circumstances
Recall in reverse order
One-on-one is not always a reason to reject a case
Corroboration and evaluation of strengths and weaknesses
Victim’s desire not to prosecute is not
reason solely to reject a case
Can we prove case through other means:
- Other witnesses
- D statements
Consider relationship between victim and suspect.
Evaluate victim’s ability to handle it.
Know as much as you can about the case and the suspect before the call.
Evaluate what tactic will raise least suspicion; discuss with victim.
Outline important points, but don’t script.
• presence: just putting himself there can help
• intent: always important and always at issue
- Consent Defense
• look for exaggeration, or how much victim
“wanted it,” how he satisfied her, etc.
• look for dispute with victim: can he provide
a reason for her to lie?
• locks suspect into denial or alibi
• may conflict with physical evidence
- Consciousness of Guilt;
- Knowledge of age
Welf. & Inst. Code, § 827
- get evaluation by expert if necessary
An expert witness is someone with specialized knowledge, skill, experience, training or education who is able to explain to jurors something about the litigation that they may not otherwise understand.
What type of victim:
Types of Experts in Sexual Assault
An expert to rebut a specific defense (i.e.
eyewitness identification, confession expert,
A medical doctor was testifying in a child sexual abuse case involving the digital penetration of the child’ vagina. She was attempting to explain why the fact that the child’s vaginal opening was smaller than the circumference of the defendant’s finger was of no significance. The doctor talked at length of elasticity and flexibility of tissue, but the defense attorney persisted that the size disparity proved his client’s innocence. Finally, the doctor turned to an analogy: “Let me explain it to you this way, Mr. [defense attorney],” she began, “I could not measure the opening of your anus and determine the size of the largest stool you ever passed.” That the jury understood.
Know when the lab obtained accreditation and by what agency.
Has the lab had contamination incidents or other issues that resulted in any type of audit or loss of accreditation?
What controls are in place to protect against contamination?
What steps were taken to rectify any past contamination incidents?
What types of proficiency tests are given to the analysts at that lab? How often are they tested? Was your analyst tested? When? Did you analyst pass?
Research the defense expert thoroughly
a. Current curriculum vitae
b. Transcripts of prior testimony
c. Literature published by the expert
d. Reviews or comments by other experts
The significance of hair evidence is:
where it’s found and what kind of hair it is
a. Delayed disclosure
b. Disclosure in bits and pieces
d. Child returning to the circumstances on which s/he
e. An inability to recall dates, duration or number of
f. The child’s loving relationship with the offender
Rape Trauma Syndrome
INTERVIEW THESE WITNESSES FOR CORROBORATION
Interview witnesses regarding:
Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome
In court, perceived credibility is more important than actual credibility:
If unraveled, the DNA within each cell of the human would stretch six feet long. Remind jurors that if one were to cut a golf ball in half, the string inside a one inch gold ball, if unraveled, is 90 feet long.
Expressly allows evidence of prior sexual misconduct to show defendant was disposed to commit sexual offenses.