17 September 2012

Sex offender's ex-girlfriend not allowed to testify about sex life at confinement hearing

Matter of New York v Domeneck, 2012 NY Slip Op 06101 [1st Dept 2012] [available here]

If you are convicted of certain sex crimes in New York, the government can continue to detain you at a "secure treatment facility," even after the expiration of your sentence for the underlying offense, if it is determine after a hearing that you are "a dangerous sex offender required confinement." (Domeneck, * 1.) The hearing is crucial; it is the only check on the government's ability to deprive a citizen of his or her liberty, potentially indefinitely.

In Demoneck the defendant called a former girlfriend at his dispositional hearing to testify "that, during their relationship, he exercised self-control over his sexual desires." (Id. at *1.) The hearing judge refused to let her testify, holding that her testimony was not relevant to the question of whether the defendant "suffered from a 'mental abnormality'" making him more likely to re-offend in the future. The appellate court agreed, finding that evidence that the defendant "may not have sexually abused one former girlfriend . . . does not tend to disprove that his behavior manifested a pattern of sexually abusing non-consenting women." (Id. at *1.)

The hearing court held that defendant was a "dangerous sex offender," and ordered him held in a secure confinement facility after the expiration of his sentence. Unless something changes, that is likely where he will stay. The evidence issue on appeal was a pretty close call, relevance-wise. But in a hearing with such high stakes for the defendant, why wouldn't the courts err on the side of letting the evidence in, and let the hearing officer credit it or not as he or she sees fit?

No comments:

Post a Comment