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Name: Holley v. Yarborough
Case #: 08-15104
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/16/2009

The trial court’s denial of defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective cross-examination through introduction of evidence that the complaining witness made prior claims of her own sexual appeal, so as to show bias of the witness, is a violation of defendant’s right to a fair trial. Petitioner was charged with several counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with an 11-year-old girl. At trial, the court denied his motion to introduce evidence that the girl had previously made statements to neighborhood children that she had done “weird stuff” in the closet with her boyfriend (the same term she used to describe petitioner’s conduct) and that a neighborhood boy wanted to have sex with her and that her brother had tried once to have sex with her. Appellant was convicted of two of the Penal Code section 288, subdivision (a) charges and sentenced to eight years in prison, which he served. The state courts upheld the conviction. However, the federal appellate court found that under clearly established federal law, as set forth by the Supreme Court, this was error. The evidence was relevant and probative in that it would permit the jury to evaluate the witness’ credibility and its exclusion was prejudicial as there was no physical evidence of the alleged offense or significant corroboration of the witness’ claim. Appellant’s motion for writ of habeas corpus was granted.