Reputation Evidence In a Sex Crime Case In California

In People v. Taylor (1986) 180 Cal. App. 3d 622, the defendant was charged with the rape of a mentally incompetent person. On appeal, the defendant challenged the trial court's complete refusal to allow him to present evidence of his reputation in the community for truth and veracity. (Taylor, supra, 180 Cal. App. 3d at p. 628.) The Court found the complete exclusion of such evidence constituted an abuse of discretion. the Court noted the record revealed no discussion of Evidence Code section 352 and concluded: "Under the present facts, it would be an abuse of discretion to exclude the proffered evidence under section 352. The defendant's credibility was highly relevant to the case. the jury heard extensive psychiatric testimony concerning the victim's mental abilities, particularly her ability to answer questions truthfully, to make up stories, and to understand what had happened to her. The jury was deprived, however, of any extrinsic evidence relating to defendant's credibility. the proposed evidence consisted of brief statements by several witnesses concerning defendant's reputation for credibility. the risk of undue consumption of time in a trial which took 10 days was minimal. the risk of confusing the jury was even smaller. the primary task facing the jury was assessing credibility. Evidence of defendant's reputation in this regard could only assist the jury in this determination." (Taylor, supra, 180 Cal. App. 3d at p. 633.)