California v. Sexton

Defendant Daniel Sexton was convicted of several crimes committed against Jane Doe, his ex-wife. During the course of the investigation, Jane first accused him of domestic violence, later recanted her allegations, and then reverted to her original statements. At trial, the jury received testimony from an expert who offered her professional opinion about statements typically made by victims of intimate partner battering. Specifically, the expert asserted that it was not unusual for victims of intimate partner battering to cycle between periods of seeking assistance from law enforcement and of supporting their battering partners, including by making false statements to the police. On appeal, Sexton challenged CALCRIM No. 850, the standard jury instruction regarding testimony by complaining witnesses in cases in which the jury also hears evidence from an expert in intimate partner battering. Sexton claimed the instruction would suggest that if jurors found the expert to be credible, they should find the witness credible too. Furthermore, Sexton argued: (1) because Arizona's robbery statute did not contain all the elements of California's, including asportation, the true finding on the alleged Arizona prior conviction had to be reversed and the five-year prior serious felony enhancement stricken; (2) the statutory dual punishment ban required the sentence on either count 3 (domestic violence) or count 4 (assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury) be stayed given that both counts were predicated on the same physical assault as part of a single course of conduct that had one objective, the infliction of physical and emotional harm on Jane. Sexton sought remand for the trial court to consider whether it should strike his prior serious felony enhancement under Senate Bill No. 1393, which the State conceded was appropriate. View "California v. Sexton" on Justia Law