On April 20, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, reversed a lower court decision of alleged 2013 child molestation by John Landis Wismer, then in his late 60s, who was a close friend of a family with daughters aged 9 and 13. He was charged with inappropriate touching of the girls. There had been alcohol consumption the night of the alleged sexual misconduct. Wismer was sentenced to 50 years to life by the trial court, but the appellate panel nixed the conviction and sent the case back for "further proceedings."
The reversal was based on two matters: jury misconduct and, as the appellate court said, "The physical evidence was inconclusive; the prosecution's case turned largely on the credibility of the two girls, and, to a certain extent, their parents." The court commanded that the part of the decision dealing with the credibility of the girls and their parents not be published.
The jury misconduct revolved around an Asian female telling fellow jurors of "an experiment." Said the court, "Using racially charged language, she falsely accused a male Hispanic juror of slapping her behind, telling the jury "he wanted to put his Mexican burrito in my chicken fried rice." The way the Hispanic juror reacted to the deliberately false charge was indicative of how an innocent person would react to such a falsehood. "The Asian juror's false accusation and the Hispanic juror's were not part of the evidence of the case, yet they were presented to and considered by the jury in reaching a verdict," said the appellate court. Since it was not part of evidence presented at court, the decision had to be reversed, said the appellate court.