Steven Parker, 42, has received a new trial by unanimous vote after his 2006 conviction for child sexual assault on a 11-year-old child was thrown out due to the placement of a screen around him at trial so his alleged victim could not see him.
The use of such screens are highly prejudicial for a defendant who is supposed to have a presumption of innocence. The court concluded that “The screen was, in effect, a judicially sanctioned prop that lent credence to the witness’s claims.” For the full opinion, here.
The prosecutors are not sure of whether they will retry Parker, but the blame must be placed on the prosecution and Sarpy County District Judge David Arterburn. This move was clearly reversible error when it was implemented and any trauma imposed on this child is due to the failure to guarantee a trial with the most basic constitutional protections.
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5 thoughts on “Nebraska Supreme Overturns Child Assault Conviction”
To Judge Arterburn, doing his job seems to be the least of his concerns. Any judge who can turn their head the other way and do NOTHING when there are obvious reasons to at least evaluate the merit of accusions from a hurting mother doesn’t deserve the power the people have entrusted him with. VOTE OUT JUDGE ARTEBURN, 2-13-2012
Any “Love it or leave it” type statement always rubs me wrong. Regardless of if what particular part of our society it’s about. I’d hate to think this is the kind of country where anything is above questioning, including the Constitution. Would you suggest that anyone who was against Prohibition should have left the country until the 21st amendment was enacted? I agree that we need to stick to the rule of law, but that doesn’t mean we get to exile anyone who’s opinion is contrary to the current law.
The Sixth Amendment says, in part “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right …to be confronted with the witnesses against him….”
I don’t see anything about “unless the witness is a child.” If you don’t like the Constitution feel free to leave.
I agree with rafflaw. It’s only fair that the presumption of innocence be maintained. Tainting the jury’s perception of someone is unfair, even if unintentional and even if they are proven to be guilty later on.
That’s a tough situation having to put someone so young through the ordeal of a trial. But there must be better alternatives to minimize the trauma.
This is unfortunately the correct decision by the Nebraska Supreme Court. I hope that the state tries again to prosecute this indivisual fairly so that we can make sure that if this guy did do what he was accused of, that he will be put away for along time. I am surprised that the trial judge would have allowed this tactic to have been used in the first place.
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