Judge Rejects Defense Argument Victim Is Too Old to Request Anonymity in Court, Grants Prosecution Motion Providing Alleged Victim Anonymity

By Michael Apfel

MODESTO, CA – In Stanislaus County Superior Court Dept. 7, Judge Kellee C. Westbrook granted the prosecution’s motion in a misdemeanor case to provide anonymity to the alleged victim.

In a court proceeding reviewing motions, Deputy District Attorney Larissa Jones requested the alleged victim be referred to as “Jane Doe” in the court proceedings. The defense pushed back, arguing the alleged victim’s age indicated anonymity was not necessary and could unduly prejudice the jury.

“I know there is some authority for that, keeping anonymity, but I think the witness now is well into her twenties,” said defense attorney John Garcia. “She is not a child.”

Judge Westbrook disagreed with this argument from the beginning, immediately interjecting and expressing her support for the witness’s anonymity.

“She wasn’t a child at the time either, but I think they still deserve privacy,” said Judge Westbrook.

The judge apologized for interrupting defense counsel and asked him to finish stating his arguments, but Garcia promptly stopped arguing against anonymity. Instead, Garcia began advocating  the court provide some sort of limiting instruction to prevent the jury from making a big deal out of the alleged victim’s anonymity.

“With that said Judge, I see there are some protections advising the jury that they not make that any more than what it is. As long as the court is advising them of the following guidelines, I submit,” Garcia said.

This argument was accepted by the judge, promising Garcia that a limiting instruction would be provided, which was met with no objection from the prosecution.

About The Author

Michael Apfel is a second year at USC majoring in Legal Studies and minoring in Sports Media Industries. He plans on law school after his undergraduate studies looking to work in social justice.

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