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“The ‘greater latitude rule’ for admitting other-acts evidence in cases of child sexual assault is an important principle for protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court today has reaffirmed its vitality.”
MADISON – The Wisconsin Supreme Court today upheld the Jefferson County conviction of Miguel E. Marinez, Jr. for first-degree sexual assault of a four-year-old child. In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that evidence of Marinez’s “other bad acts” against the child – specifically, a hand-burning incident that the child mentioned during a videotaped interview – was properly introduced at trial. The Supreme Court concluded that such evidence provided context for the sexual-assault allegation, including assisting the jury’s credibility determinations and establishing the time and location of the sexual assault, and also helped to establish the identity of Marinez as the perpetrator of the sexual assault.
Recognizing “the greater latitude rule” for admitting other-acts evidence in cases charging child sexual assault, the Supreme Court majority concluded that in this case, “the other-acts evidence was so intertwined with the otherwise admissible videotaped statement of the child victim,” that the circuit court properly applied the governing evidentiary rule. In so ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a contrary decision of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the conviction.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen applauded the decision, authored by Justice N. Patrick Crooks, observing: “The ‘greater latitude rule’ for admitting other-acts evidence in cases of child sexual assault is an important principle for protecting our most vulnerable citizens, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court today has reaffirmed its vitality,” said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case, and Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Rapp St. John represented the State of Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The underlying case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General David Wambach.
The decision may be found at the following link: