Wednesday, August 17, 2016

United States v. Willis, 2016 WL 3407626 (10th Cir. 2016): The Tenth Circuit affirms the defendant’s conviction for aggravated sexual abuse committed in Indian country. The issue at trial was not whether the encounter happened, but whether or not there was consent. The Court found no error in admitting evidence of prior alleged sexual assault incidents involving other women when the defendant was a juvenile. The victim’s alleged prior sexual activity was properly excluded. Willis also asserted his initial statements to law enforcement were not lawfully obtained. However, although he initially requested an attorney, he asked the agents if he could change his mind and talk with them. The agents reminded him of his rights and had him sign the waiver form again. Accordingly, Willis was aware he did not need to give any statements and they were properly admitted. The final argument was that an agent wrongly vouched for the victim’s credibility. The Tenth Circuit found Willis’ objections to be insufficient. The agent testified that the victim’s story changing did not change the fact that he believed her claims. The defense did not make a very specific objection, and later, during cross-examination, reemphasized the agent’s affirmative belief in the victim. Overall, the Court concluded that Willis received a fair trial.