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Exclusion of Victim's Past Sexual Conduct Contrary to Crane

By FindLaw Staff on May 25, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Gagne v. Booker, 07-1970, the Sixth Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a conviction for criminal sexual misconduct on the ground that trial court's exclusion of certain evidence of victim's past sexual conduct violated defendant's due process rights to present a meaningful defense.

In stressing that its holding is fact-based in the extreme, the court wrote: "Under the circumstances present here, the exclusion of evidence of the complainant's consensual three-way sex with the defendant only a month before the subject incident, in a three-way rape case in which extensive evidence of the victim's sexual conduct had already been admitted at trial, and where the question of guilt or innocense turned almost entirely on the credibility of the victim's testimony regarding consent, was an unreasonable application of the principles set forth by the Supreme Court in Crane."

Thus in affirming the district court's grant of habeas relief, the court held that the Michigan Court of Appeals' exclusion of certain evidence of victim's sexual conduct deprived defendant of his constitutional right to a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense as articulated by the Supreme Court in Crane.   

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