Made available by Touch N' Go Systems, Inc. and
This was Gottstein but needs to change to what?
406 G Street, Suite 210, Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 274-7686 fax 333-5869 This site is possible because of the following site sponsors. Please support them with your business.
www.gottsteinLaw.com

You can of the Alaska Court of Appeals opinions.

Touch N' Go, the DeskTop In-and-Out Board makes your office run smoother. Visit Touch N' Go's Website to see how.


State v. Stidston (2/20/2015) ap-2443

State v. Stidston (2/20/2015) ap-2443

                                                       NOTICE
  

         The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the  

         Pacific Reporter.  Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal  

         errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts.   



                                    303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska  99501
  

                                               Fax:  (907) 264-0878
  

                                       E-mail:  corrections @ akcourts.us
  



                 IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA  



STATE OF ALASKA,  

                                                                       Court of Appeals No. A-11734  

                                     Petitioner,                      Trial Court No. 4FA-13-925 CR  



                            v.  

                                                                                  O P I N I O N  

TRISTAN MORGAN STIDSTON,  

                                                                       No. 2443 - February 20, 2015  

                                     Respondent.  



                   Petition for Review from the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial  

                   District, Fairbanks, Bethany S. Harbison, Judge.  



                   Appearances: Diane L. Wendlandt, Assistant Attorney General,     

                   Office   of   Criminal   Appeals,   Anchorage,   and   Michael   C.  

                   Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Petitioner.  William  

                                                          

                   R. Satterberg, Jr., The Law Offices of William R. Satterberg, Jr.,  

                                                                                 

                   Fairbanks, for the Respondent.  Katherine J. Hansen, Victims'  

                   Rights     Attorney,      Office     of   Victims'      Rights,     and    Renee  

                   McFarland,  Assistant  Public  Defender,  and  Quinlan  Steiner,  

                   Public Defender, Anchorage, as amici curiae.  



                   Before:  Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard and Kossler, Judges.  



                   Judge ALLARD.  


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

                     Tristan  Morgan  Stidston  is  charged  with  sexually  assaulting  P.E.  and  

tampering with physical evidence following that assault.1  The State filed a motion under  



Alaska's rape shield law asking the superior court to preclude Stidston from offering  

                                         



evidence of P.E.'s past sexual conduct at trial, unless Stidston made a prior application  

                                                                         



to the court.  



                     Under Alaska's rape shield statute, AS 12.45.045, a criminal defendant  



charged  with  a  sexual  offense  who  wishes  to  present  evidence  of  the  complaining  

                                      



witness's sexual history must ask the court for permission to present that evidence at  

                                                                                                                     



least five days before trial - unless the defendant shows "good cause" to make the  

         



application at a later date.  



                     When Stidston's case was litigated in the superior court, the State took the  

                                                                                     



position that the only "good cause" for making a late application under AS 12.45.045(a)  

                                                                         



was if the defendant discovered the relevant information only after the statutory deadline  

                                                                                                       



had passed. Stidston did not dispute this reading of the statute; instead he argued that the  

                     



statute, so construed, violated his right against self-incrimination because it required him  

                                                                                                                 



to disclose his defense before trial.  



                     The superior court adopted the parties' reading of the statute and ruled that  

                                                                                              



the statute, construed in this manner, was unconstitutional.  



                     The State petitioned for review of that decision. At our request, the Alaska  

                                                                                                



Office of Victims' Rights and the Alaska Public Defender Agency also submitted briefs  

                                                                                          



as amici curiae.  The State and amici curiae reach the same conclusion:  that the reading  

                                          



of the statute the parties adopted in the superior court was wrong; that AS 12.45.045(a)  



does, in fact, contain a general good cause exception to the statutory deadline; and that  

          



this exception allows a court to consider a mid-trial application to present evidence of  



           1  

                AS 11.41.410(a)(1); AS 11.56.610(a)(1).  



                                                               - 2 -                                                          2443  


----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

the  complaining  witness's  sexual  history  even  if  the  defendant  was  aware  of  that  



information before the statutory deadline. We agree with this construction of the statute,  

                                                                                                              



and we therefore reverse the superior court's order ruling the statute unconstitutional.  



          Why we hold that AS 12.45.045(a) contains a general good cause exception  

                                                                          



                    As we explained, AS 12.45.045(a) limits the right of a criminal defendant  



charged with a sexual crime to introduce evidence of the complaining witness's sexual  

                                                                                



history.  The statute requires a defendant who seeks to admit such evidence to:  



                    apply for an order of the court not later than five days before  

                                                                               

                    trial  or  at  a  later  time  as  the  court  may,  for  good  cause,  

                    permit.  The defendant may, for good cause shown, apply for  

                                                                    

                    an order during trial if the request is based on information  

                    learned  after  the  deadline  or  during  the  trial.    After  the  

                    application  is  made,  the  court  shall  conduct  a  hearing  in  

                                          

                    camera to determine the admissibility of the evidence.2  



                    This statute is ambiguous on its face:  The first reference to "good cause"  



appears to create a general good cause exception to the pretrial deadline for making a  

                                                  



request to offer evidence of the complaining witness's sexual history.  But the statute  



goes on to state that a request may be made during trial if the information is "learned  



after the deadline or during the trial."  This language could be construed to narrow the  

                                                



general  good  cause  exception  by  limiting  any  mid-trial  application  to  information  



discovered after the statutory deadline had passed.  Alternatively, the clause could be  

                                                                              



read  as  a  subset  of  the  general  good  cause  exception  -  that  is,  as  one  particular  

                                                                                          



circumstance establishing good cause.  



          2  

                AS 12.45.045(a).  



                                                            - 3 -                                                        2443  


----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

                    Because the statute is subject to these two reasonable interpretations, we  

look to the legislative history to resolve that ambiguity.3  



                    In  its  petition,  the  State  argues  that  this  ambiguity  is  a  "quirk"  of  the  



drafting process, and that the legislature did not intend to narrow the statute's general  



good cause exception by limiting mid-trial applications to newly discovered information.  



After reviewing the legislative history, we agree that the legislature intended the first  



good cause exception to apply throughout the trial phase of the litigation.  



                    As originally introduced, Senate Bill 22 (and an identical companion bill,  



House  Bill  73)  only  allowed  the  defendant  to  make  a  mid-trial  application  if  the  

                                                                                                                         



information about the complaining witness's sexual history was discovered after the  

                    



pretrial statutory deadline:  



                    When  the  defendant  seeks  to  admit  the  evidence  for  any  

                                     

                    purpose, the defendant shall apply for an order of the court  

                    not later than five days before trial.  The defendant may apply  

                                                                                

                    for an order during trial if the request is based on evidence  

                    admitted at trial that was not available to the defendant before  

                                                               

                    trial.4  



                    But   during   committee   discussion   of   this   legislation,   Senator   Bill  



Wielechowski   repeatedly   voiced   concern   that   this   rigid   pretrial   deadline   could  



unconstitutionally  prevent  a  defendant  from  presenting  relevant  evidence  of  the  



complaining witness's sexual conduct if a defense attorney's strategy changed mid-trial  



          3  

                Anchorage v. Adamson , 301 P.3d 569, 576-77 (Alaska 2013) ("When statutory  

language is ambiguous, we look to the purpose of the legislation and the legislative history     

for indications of legislative intent.") (citing Alyeska Pipeline Serv. Co. v. DeShong , 77 P.3d  

1227, 1234 (Alaska 2003)).  



          4  

                 S.B. 22, 28th Leg., 1st Sess.,  13 (as introduced, Jan. 16, 2013); H.B. 73, 28th  

Leg., 1st Sess.  13 (as introduced, Jan. 16, 2013).  



                                                             - 4 -                                                        2443
  


----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

                                                                      5  

based on a surprise in the State's case.   This concern was echoed by Public Defender  

Quinlan Steiner.6                                                                                                   

                                 During the course of these discussions, the bill was gradually amended  

to include both good cause exceptions.7  



                        Assistant Attorney General Anne Carpeneti described the amended version  



                                                                                                                                       

of  the  bill  to  the  Senate  Finance  Committee  as  requiring  a  defendant  to  make  an  



                                                                                                         

application to introduce information on a victim's sexual conduct five days before trial  

unless, for some reason, meeting that deadline was unreasonable.8  

                                                                                                                          Carpeneti likewise  



                                                                                      

told the House Finance Committee that the bill included language allowing a defendant  



                                                                                                                                    

to apply after the pretrial deadline "for good cause or if the information is learned at a  

later date."9  



                                                                                                      

                        Based on this legislative history, we agree with the State and amici curiae  



that AS 12.45.045 contains a general good cause exception to the pretrial application  



            5     See Minutes of Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 22, 2:33:13-2:33:57 p.m.   



(Jan. 30, 2013); Minutes of Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 22, 1:58:30-1:58:48 p.m.  

(Feb. 11, 2013); Minutes of Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 22, 2:13:22-2:14:34                                    

p.m. (Feb. 18, 2013). 



            6  

                  Minutes of Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 22,                                                  testimony of Public  

Defender Quinlan Steiner, 2:16:00-2:16:30 p.m. (Feb. 18, 2013); Minutes of House Judiciary  

Committee, House Bill 73, testimony of Public Defender Quinlan Steiner, 1:52:57-54:11 p.m.  

(Feb. 11, 2013). 



            7       See S.B. 22, 28th Leg., 1st Sess.,  16 (as introduced, Mar. 15, 2013); see also  



Minutes  of  Senate  Judiciary Committee, Senate  Bill 22, Senator  John  Coghill,  2:41:29- 

                                                                                                                     

2:42:28 p.m. (Mar. 1, 2013) (noting that the judiciary committee passed an amendment to the  

                        

bill providing for a good cause exception). 



            8      See Minutes of Senate Finance Committee, Senate Bill 22, testimony of Assistant  

                    

Attorney General Anne Carpeneti, 9:57:23-9:57:39 a.m. (Mar. 20, 2013). 



            9      See Minutes of House Finance Committee, Senate Bill 22, testimony of Assistant  

                

Attorney General Anne Carpeneti, 9:45:02-9:45:19 a.m. (Apr. 2, 2013) (emphasis added).  



                                                                          - 5 -                                                                     2443
  


----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

deadline for introducing information on a complaining witness's sexual conduct, and that  



the reference to newly discovered information is just one example of good cause.  



                   Accordingly, the superior court's order declaring AS 12.45.045 uncon- 

                                                                                                    



stitutional in part, and severing the clause "if the request is based on information learned  

                                                             



after the deadline or during the trial," is REVERSED and this case is REMANDED to  

                                                                                      



the superior court for further proceedings.  We do not retain jurisdiction.  



                                                           - 6 -                                                       2443
  

Case Law
Statutes, Regs & Rules
Constitutions
Miscellaneous


IT Advice, Support, Data Recovery & Computer Forensics.
(907) 338-8188

Please help us support these and other worthy organizations:
Law Project for Psychiatraic Rights
Soteria-alaska
Choices
AWAIC