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“Shiffra” Material — In Camera Inspection

State v. Terrance W. Walther, 2001 WI App 23, 240 Wis. 2d 619, 623 N.W.2d 205
For Walther: Raymond M. Dall’Osto, Kathryn A. Keppel

Issue: Whether the defendant’s motion for in camera inspection of the child sexual assault complainant’s confidential records should have been granted.

Holding:

¶11 Here, Walther established more than the mere possibility that the requested records ‘may be necessary to a fair determination of guilt or innocence.’ See Shiffra, 175 Wis. 2d at 610. The information Walther provided, both in counsel’s affidavit and supplemental submissions, about the child’s background and treatment history, in combination with the information about the reported sexual assaults at St. Aemilian’s, established more than the mere possibility that the requested records would reveal information necessary to a fair determination of guilt or innocence.

¶14 … (W)e caution trial courts to carefully consider, in cases presenting ‘close call[s],’ the consequences of cutting off in camera review. As emphasized in Shiffra, and as reiterated in Munoz, a trial court’s in camera review ‘is a limited intrusion that often provides the best tool for resolving conflicts between the sometimes competing goals of confidential privilege and the right to put on a defense.’ Munoz, 200 Wis. 2d at 400 (quoting Shiffra, 175 Wis. 2d at 611-12).

 

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