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Name: People v. Buffington
Case #: C051988
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/22/2007
Summary

The trial court’s error in admitting evidence of other SVP cases in which the defense expert witness testified was not prejudicial. In appellant’s SVP hearing, the defense called a psychologist to testify that in his opinion appellant was able to control his sexually dangerous behavior. In order to establish bias, the prosecutor then cross-examined the psychologist about three other SVP cases in which he had testified, and his opinion that those defendants did not qualify as SVPs either. The appellate court found that the evidence was not relevant for the prosecutor’s stated purpose because the jury had no reasonable basis to reject the expert opinion’s reliability. However, the court rejected appellant’s argument that the error in admitting the evidence was prejudicial. While the facts of the other SVP cases were graphic, they were no more graphic than the facts of appellant’s offenses. Moreover, they were not the focus of the case against appellant, and were not even mentioned in closing argument. Nor was the defense as a whole undermined, because he was not the only defense expert witness. Therefore, there was no reasonable probability of a more favorable outcome had the court excluded evidence of the other cases.