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Name: People v. Paniagua
Case #: A123926
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/20/2012

Reversal was required where trial court allowed admission of unreliable evidence without a proper section 352 analysis. In an appeal from an order committing him to DMH as a sexually violent predator (SVP), Paniagua argued that the trial court erred when it permitted the prosecution to introduce evidence of his alleged trip to Thailand: a country where sex with minors is easily obtainable, including a United Airlines flight number. Paniagua denied going to Thailand and argued that there was no proof he had gone. The parties stipulated that the flight number did not even exist, and Paniagua made a 352 objection to the evidence. The trial court admitted the evidence without any section 352 analysis, and the jury found Paniagua to be an SVP. The appellate court reversed, finding that the trial court improperly did not weigh the evidence as required by section 352. The evidence was unduly prejudicial because it led the jury to believe that Paniagua had gone to Thailand for sex despite the unreliability of the evidence. There was a reasonable probability that had the jury not heard this evidence it would have rendered a different verdict, and therefore reversal was warranted. The court also rejected several other claims in case they were to arise at retrial.