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Despite Biased Juror Court Affirms Molestation Conviction

March 11, 2017

In Douglas v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to strike a juror for cause or in refusing to allow the defendant to question the victim’s mother about her own allegation of child molestation against her stepfather.

A jury convicted the defendant of one count of child molestation for viewing a pornographic video with his four-year-old daughter and acquitted him of the remaining molestation charges in the indictment.

During jury selection, a juror said that he had two daughters and a granddaughter and believed that “whether or not [the defendant] did anything,” he would have “negative feelings for [him] just because [the victim] had come to testify.” However, when pressed, the juror said, “…if the proof is different, I would have to go with that, but, you know, it will be harder…especially when, you know, you have a kid there.”

The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to strike the juror for cause stating that the record showed that the juror would consider the evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling, holding that because his bias was against the type of crime and not the defendant, and because he was willing to try to be objective, the juror was eligible to serve.

The defendant also argued that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to allow him to question the victim’s mother regarding a previous “false allegation” of child molestation that she had made. The Court disagreed, holding that just because her molestation allegation resulted in an acquittal at trial for her stepfather, it could not be said that it was necessarily a false allegation.

Moreover, because the mother’s previous allegation could not be connected to the daughter’s, the Court concluded that it was too remote to be relevant. Therefore, the Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to allow the defense to cross examine on this issue, especially considering that the defendant did not offer proof as to its falsity.

As a result, the Court affirmed the defendant’s child molestation conviction.

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