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Name: Bruce v. Terhune
Case #: 02-16992
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/19/2004

Appellant contended that the combination of two jury instructions constituted a due process violation in his trial for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. The first was an instruction that testimony by one witness concerning a fact is sufficient proof of that fact, and the second informed jurors that the testimony of the victim of a sex offense need not be corroborated by other evidence. Appellant argued that because the trial was a credibility contest between him and the victim, the instructions unconstitutionally lightened the State’s burden by conveying to the jurors that the victim’s testimony should be favored. The appellate court here disagreed and affirmed. The instructions must be viewed in the context of the whole. Here, the instructions as a whole made clear to the jury that the prosecution had the burden of proving each element of the offense, including specific intent, beyond a reasonable doubt, and thus comported with Winship’s due process standard.