Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cal. court finds showing 25-minute video of CP to jury not overly prejudicial

A California defendant was found guilty of possession of child pornography after a 25-minute video from his computer was shown at trial. People v. Holford, 202 Cal. App. 4th 758 (2012) (Word Doc). The defendant argued the video caused undue prejudice, and in the alternative, the video should have been edited to show only part of the video.

On appeal, the California Court of Appeal noted that "child pornography is not pretty and will always be unpleasant. ... [I]t would surprise us if the jurors here were not 'sickened, disgusted, or shocked' by much of what was depicted during the video on the hard drive found in defendant's possession." Despite that, the video was highly probative and was properly admitted.

Further, the court noted that while an excerpt might have sufficed, that was not an ideal solution.
  • Because of the size of the file, it would have taken approximately five minutes to transfer. Showing the entire video would prove that copying it to the computer was not accidental.
  • Showing only the end of the video would have shown that it contained child pornography, but the jury might have wondered if the defendant was unaware of the end of the video.
  • The first part of the video only the image of a nude child and would not have sufficiently proven sexual conduct.
  • If snippets were used, the jury might have wondered what happened between the segments.

The defendant also argued that the trial court should have reviewed the video before allowing the jury to view it. The appellate court noted that the trial judge should have reviewed it, but the defendant failed to show how the decision to show the video would have been different.


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