Parts of this post were used in Aggravated.
Texas v. Munsen – Dixon’s Excuses
The Gonzo and Munsen cases happened five and seven years, respectively, after Steve’s 2006 trial (2011 and 2013). As I said in the last post, Dixon said that she had testified in 30 or 40 trials by 2006. So I wondered, if she had already testified that many times by 2006, why were none of those cases in LexisNexis? And why were there only two other cases (Steve’s and Gonzo v. State) in the database by 2015? Twice out of twenty-one years of testifying just seemed like an impossibly small number to me.
Nina Dixon lived and worked in Deep Springs, but the Texas v. Munsen trial was held in another Central Texas town, slightly less than an hour’s drive away. The first day of the trial was on Monday, January 28, 2013, and began with a roughly half-hour pre-trial discussion, half of which was about Ms. Dixon. The defense had subpoenaed her the previous week, but she refused the subpoena, saying it didn’t have her name on it. A second subpoena was supposed to have been issued, but the sheriff didn’t serve it. The trial was about to start, but the defense hadn’t received any of the documents, had no way to know what they contained, and wouldn’t be able to examine them until the trial was underway. Not helpful in preparing a defense.
On Tuesday, Dixon arrived, and was questioned on the record outside of the jury’s presence for thirteen minutes. The prosecutor read her the list of fifteen different items she was supposed to have brought with her. She hadn’t. They asked her if she would be able “to get them by tomorrow,” the day before she was scheduled to testify. She said she would be able to have some of it, but not all because she had a “crashed computer” that “went out of memory, so it took down my – like, what I would do is I would, like, do notes, and then to print them, I have to send them to another printer, and that part of the computer crashed. So I can’t get anything out to move them out.” I don’t know how much sense that made to the prosecutor, but he just asked her again, “So you can’t have these by tomorrow?” She answered, “No, sir.”
Under questioning, she said that she didn’t have records from CPS and law enforcement (because she only communicated with them through phone calls), or psychological tests (because she didn’t “do testing”), or “a set of guidelines or standard procedures used to exclude false allegations” (because the experience she relied on was all in her head). Wasn’t that convenient?
She also said of her work that it was “my passion, my expertise. I’ve written a book,” and said that she had given a copy to one of the prosecutors. To clarify, they asked her, “So you have a book that you have written, but you don’t use a written set of guidelines or procedures to evaluate [patients]?” She answered, “Not at this point.”
It seemed to me that Dixon was, in effect, admitting that in the twenty-one years since she opened her business she hadn’t been able to come up with “a written set of guidelines or procedures” to follow when working with patients.
When asked if she would have any “publication, presentation, seminar, material, or course material” which could support her opinions of the “physical, mental, and medical condition” of the two young children in the trial, she said, “I don’t have anything, no.” When asked if she could provide any other materials that she relied on to make her determinations about the two girls she said, “I form my own opinions.” When they asked her if she had any “authoritative guides, standard guidelines, and other literature relied on, referred to, to determine that they’re the victims of sexual assault,” she said, “I didn’t have to talk to them and then go read something.” In other words, she was still saying she only needed to rely on what was already in her head.
And when they asked her what records she could make available, she said, “I’ll have to go home and work all night just to pull things out. But, again, if they’re locked in that computer, I just won’t be able to.” Dixon avoided turning over much of the material they were asking for by making excuses, and by having a convenient computer crash that she said wiped out most of her other records. She showed up the next day with some materials, and left them with the judge. Realizing that neither the defense attorney nor the prosecutors had seen any of it, the judge called a recess until the next morning to give them a chance to study the material.
All of the above happened before Dixon’s testimony in the trial even began (on the fourth day of the trial). In the next post we’ll take a look at what happened when she actually testified.
If you’re an attorney or a judge, does this seem like normal behavior from an expert witness? Comments below. Thanks.
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