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Name: People v. Wesson
Case #: H028484
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/20/2006

A defendant’s conviction of sodomy by force is upheld where the evidence of prior sex offenses was properly admitted at trial. The defendant argued on appeal that the trial court had erred in permitting proof of the prior sex offenses by means of documentary evidence rather than live testimony. Specifically, the prosecution offered an excerpt from the 1990 charging documents, a notice of a change of plea, and an abstract of judgment showing convictions for oral copulation and sexual battery. The defendant argued that introduction of this evidence violated Evidence Code section 1108 and his right to fair trial by jury, and that the court abused its discretion under section 352. The Court of Appeal rejected the argument that section 1108 allows only evidence regarding the commission of prior offenses, and that evidence related only to a conviction for those offenses was not relevant. The court further found that by using documentary evidence rather than live testimony, the prosecution removed much of the potential inflammatory detail regarding those offenses, and thus the trial court had not abused its discretion.