August 11, 2011
People v. Brown Sexual Exploitation of a Child / Cop as Expert in Child Pornography / Sufficiency of the Evidence / Rule 403
Facts: During the execution of a search warrant, the police allegedly retrieved pictures from Mr. Brown’s computer. Although Mr. Brown disputed the authenticity, the prosecution claimed, and the jury unfortunately agreed, that the pictures indeed showed real children – not merely computer images.
Issue: Whether, under CRE Rule 403, the trial court erred in admitting the pictures?
Reasoning: The CofA simply held the pictures comprise proof of the alleged crime, and thus, the trial court did not err in admitting the photos. The CofA wrote, “Here, the images were direct proof of an essential element of the charged crimes, and the fact that the nature of the charges may be prejudicial to defendant does not justify exclusion of such relevant evidence.”
Issue: Whether the prosecution presented sufficient evidence that the pictures contained real children?
Reasoning: The CofA again disagreed the defesne, and said from viewing the pictures itself, the jury possessed sufficient evidence to convict.
Issue: Whether the trial court erred in allowing the Detective to testify as an “expert” in child pornography?
Held: Wait; is this a child porn case? Then, of course, NO!
Reasoning: Essentially, getting generic b.s. training as a cop, being a cop, and claiming ‘expertise’ from his one-week class, the trial court did not err in allowing the cop to testify as an expert in child porn. The CofA wrote, “Here, we cannot say that the court's qualification of the detective as an expert was manifestly unreasonable, arbitrary, or unfair, in light of the detective's (1) two years with the child abuse unit; (2) classes on investigating sexual exploitation of children cases; and (3) previous handling of approximately a dozen child pornography investigations.” The CofA drew this conclusion despite the fact that the prosecution sandbagged the defense. Here, the prosecution did not endorse cop-hack as an expert prior to trial, provided no expert report, did not disclose the CV of cop-hack, did not disclose the treatises relied upon (pretending there would be any), or prior testimony as an expert (of which there appears to be none).