Monday, May 13, 2013

ayres Molest Trial: Day 1 - Morning

Criminal Retrial - Day 1 - Morning Update:

This is a brief update on the criminal re-trial of william hamilton ayres, accused of molesting many young boys under the guise of providing psychiatric care. 

Day One is motions and procedure, as expected.

Court Metrics:
Prosecution bench includes: prosecutors McKowan, Gianinni, Lynch, and from the police department: Decker.

Prosecution expects approximately 6 expert witnesses.

Trial will run Monday through Friday 8:30am until 3:30pm, ending at lunchtime on Fridays, unless trial proceeds rapidly, then Fridays may be days off.

Trial is expected to run through July 3rd.

One of the prosecution's witnesses is flying in from New York, and he'll only be available on June 7th. (Fixing his testimony to that day only.)

Judge has a large jury pool, and selection will run this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Each side will be allowed 10 preemptory challenges. Defense Shyster McDougall fussed about wanting more than 10. Judge said she'll think about it.

As in the last trial, the judge will admonish against recording devices. If I recall, last time there were also restrictions against video/photography even in the halls outside the courtroom, but then that was changed after the press made a fuss (I think). I don't know if that was related directly to the ayres case or not, I think the order was issued by a different judge at the time. 

There were two main issues discussed in the morning: competency (eye-roll is appropriate here) and character witnesses:

Sounds like both sides submitted their arguments about the ridiculous insistence that ayres is not competent. Shyster McDougall rambled on about California Supreme Court case Medina. Presumably McDougall is hot and bothered about the thought that in a competency case, placing burden of proof on the defense might be a violation of due process.

The judge will weigh the information both parties presented, and have a decision at 2pm today. She states that the "Dusky" US Supreme Court case will take precedence where the two cases clash. From what I can tell,  Dusky holds that there is no constitutional impediment to require a defendant to bear the burden of proof in a competency hearing.

Shyster McDougall whined about needing to delay the trial at least a week to prepare for matters if they need to go down the competency route again. Or maybe he said he needs the delay if they DON'T go down the competency route. I guess I'll have to get clarification. (Does it really matter? I'm sure Shyster McD will argue for delay either way.)

Character/Habit/Custom Witnesses:

There was discussion about Section 1108, which has to do with the permissability of witness who testify about the character, habit, or custom of a defendant.

My summary of the matter (as it relates to defendants accused of sexual crimes): It seems that the court/law is pretty finicky about character witnesses that are intended to show that a defendant has some level of habitual behavior or previously identified character flaw, and using those witnesses in a specific case. This is somewhat different in sexual offense cases, it appears.

Section 1101 says essentially that evidence of character or traits are inadmissible when offered as proof of conduct on a specific occasion.  BUT:

Section 1108 says essentially that 1101 does NOT make the testimony of witnesses with evidence of ANOTHER sex offense inadmissible, as long as the testimony does not take too much of the court's time, cause undue prejudice against the defendant, confuse the issue, or mislead the jury. (Section 352).

I assume the reason that this is an issue is related to either out of statute witness testimony, or the concern that the multiple victims might imply a "pattern" (duh), or could be related to expert witnesses who might testify about other victims and established patterns of behavior on the part of the defense. There was not anything specific enough discussed to know for sure.

There was mention of one particular "1108 witness" whose testimony from the prior trial the judge will be reviewing. 

Later Today (after court returns at 2pm):

If there is a decision on the competency joke this afternoon, we'll report it later tonight.

In spite of today's posts, I'll admonish you again: If it's important for you to know what's going on in the case, you'll need to get yourself into the courtroom. 

william hamilton ayres was arrested on April 5, 2007 on charges relating to his molestation of many young boys while he was alleging to provide psychiatric care to private patients as well as referrals for evaluation from the juvenile court system in San Mateo County. ayres has been delaying his way through the system free from custody until this latest gambit to skirt prosecution by playing demented for the courts. ayres is currently under the conservatorship of his daughter Barbara Ayres of Sacramento, CA

ayres has had significant interaction over the years with local politicians on boards like the "Children and Families First Commission,"  including the DA who was serving when prosecution began Jim Fox and Assemblyman Rich Gordon. In fact, Gordon nominated ayres for a lifetime achievement award for his "Tireless effort to improve the lives of children." ayres has also been vocally supported during his criminal trial by local head-shrinkers like Bart BlinderEtta BryantMel BlausteinHarry CorenTom CieslaRobert KimmichLarry LurieMaria LymberisRichard ShadoanCaptane Thomson, and Harold Wallach.

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