After a trial by jury, Jeffrey D. Long was convicted of forcibly raping and sodomizing Debbie Flower. The Missouri Supreme Court reversed the conviction because the exclusion of evidence that Flower had falsely accused another person of making threats and assaulting her deprived Long of a full opportunity to present his defense. Previously, Missouri's rules of evidence dictated that, although a witness could be cross-examined about having made false allegations against persons other than the defendant, extrinsic evidence of such conduct was not admissible. The Missouri Supreme Court changed that rule by a 4-3 decision in State v. Long. Now, in some cases, a criminal defendant in Missouri can admit evidence to show that the prosecuting witness knowingly made prior 6 false allegations. Many jurisdictions have considered this issue and have developed varying approaches for admitting evidence of prior false allegations. The dissent in Long argued that the majority's approach is overly broad and noted that Missouri's approach is broad compared to other states. The majority was justified in changing the rule to allow the admission of such evidence. However, the new rule will undoubtedly cause confusion and delay in trials, and it would be much improved if trial courts had more specific substantive and procedural guidance for its implementation.
Jennifer Koboldt Bukowsky,
Girl Who Cried Wolf: Missouri's New Approach to Evidence of Prior False Allegations, The,
70 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol70/iss3/5