The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this sexual harassment case and its proceedings.)
Ms. Black’s Prior Sexual Behavior With Individuals Others Than Plaintiff Has No Probative Value And Is Unduly Prejudicial.
Evidence Code section 352 provides:
The court in its discretion may exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b) create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues, or misleading the trial. Evidence Code Sec. 352.
In the instant matter, the clear intent and likely result of inquiring into and introducing evidence of Ms. Black’s prior sexual conduct is to prejudice the jury against Ms. Black and XYZ. Such evidence, however, has no probative value and no place in this trial. Indeed, as stated most eloquently by the California Legislature:
The Legislature concludes that the use of evidence of a complainant’s sexual behavior is more often harassing and intimidating than genuinely probative, and the potential for prejudice outweighs whatever probative value that evidence may have. Absent extraordinary circumstances, inquiry into those areas should not be permitted, either during discovery or at trial. Id. at 14 (citing Stats. 1985, ch. 1328, § 1, pp. 4654-4655.)
No such extraordinary showing has or can be made here. On the other hand, the prejudicial effect of such testimony is quite apparent in light of the issues of this case.
Further, admission of such evidence would inevitably cause substantial undue delay. If Plaintiff was allowed to introduce evidence of Ms. Black’s prior sexual history and/or conduct with others, including prior complaints by Ms. Black of sexual harassment, Defendants would be forced to call witnesses and introduce evidence, and in effect, conduct mini trials regarding issues that are completely extraneous to the issues the finder of fact must decide. This would not only place a unreasonable burden on the Defendants and the Court, but would also confuse the issues for the jury. Accordingly, evidence pertaining to Ms. Black’s prior sexual history and/or conduct with others, including prior complaints by Ms. Black of sexual harassment, and alleged banter and horseplay (including her purportedly showing nude pictures on her cell phone to others), should be excluded.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants respectfully move the Court for an order precluding Plaintiff, his counsel, and witnesses from inquiring into, commenting upon, and/or introducing evidence pertaining to Ms. Black’s prior sexual history and/or conduct with others, including prior complaints by Ms. Black of sexual harassment, and her alleged banter and horseplay.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.