In a bench trial on punishment last week on an aggravated sexual assault defendant who pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually abusing his 12-year-old-step-daughter, the defense called a pscyhologist to testify that the defendant was an extremely low-risk to re-offend according to the Static 99. He testified the defendant scored a 0 on the Static 99 evaluation.
In case you encounter such testimony, here were some points we brought out on cross.
1) The Static 99 is for convicted sex offenders. It's an assessment tool usually used in prisons. The defense expert a) shouldn't have been using it for someone who hadn't been convicted; or b) should have taken into account the 2 incidents for which he had just pleaded guilty. We forced him to raise the assessment of guilt to medium risk after considering the 2 counts the defendant admitted to.
2) The protocols of the Static 99 require the assessor to include a written statement as to whether the assessor believes it is an accurate assessment of the defendant's risk, considering all the factors. The Static 99 is EXTREMELY limited in what it looks at--mainly prior criminal history, which is why its protocols require the assessor to evaluate all the risk factors, not just those covered on the Static 99.
The "expert" in our case had failed to file any such statement. When the lead prosecutor asked him about all the risk factors in our case: the threats of violence against the 12-year-old, the threats that he would rape her sister if she didn't comply, the "expert" kept saying, "The Static 99 doesn't look at those." But, he was violating the protocols of the Static 99 (and his professional ethics) by attempting to minimize such risk factors rather than addressing them.
3) Judge Posner has a helpful opinion on the Static 99 in a federal case where the appellant argued the judge should have lessened his sentence because he was a low-risk under the Static 99. Posner lays out all the flaws in the Static 99. US v. McIlrath, 512 F.3d 421 (7th. Cir. 2008). That opinion lays out a helpful attack on the Static 99.
4) Be sure to pull the 10 coding questions for the Static 99. You can find them online. They reveal how extremely narrow the test is, and how many risk factors it doesn't begin to address. That's also how we realized that the "expert" was playing fast and loose with the test in coming up with a score of zero.
5) The "expert" called by the defense in our case was Dr. Jumes. If you encounter him in a trial, let us know and we can get you a copy of the transcript of his cross. He was forced to admit he didn't follow the protocols of the Static 99 or score it properly.
And the punishment?
Judge is sentencing Tuesday morning.
Isn't Dr. Jumes from Vernon State Hospital? If he's not now, he used to be the head of the competency restoration section. How is he a sex offender treatment provider?
The judge just sentenced the defendant to two stacked Life sentences. Maureen Shelton was the lead prosecutor on the case and did a great job.
That is great to hear. Sounds like the punishment fits the crime.
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