Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 8 Gundersen - Domestic violence expert witness to testify - UPDATED


Former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen has been cleared of all major charges first filed against him in 2008. - Arcata Eye MARCH 2012


☛ TS Domestic violence expert witness to testify
Domestic violence expert witness Diane Wetendorf will take the stand in the rape trial of former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen, a judge ruled Wednesday.

With the jury excused for the day, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson heard arguments from the prosecution and the defense about allowing Wetendorf to testify during a sometimes contentious hearing.

After nearly three hours, Watson said he would allow Wetendorf to testify in general terms about the symptoms of domestic abuse to aid the jury in determining the reliability of the testimony of Gundersen's wife, Darcie Seal...

District Attorney Paul Gallegos filed a motion with the court seeking to admit the testimony of Wetendorf, who has spent years working with victims of domestic violence, the last 10 of which she has spent specifically focusing on domestic violence perpetrated by or against members of law enforcement.

Gallegos said his intention is to have Wetendorf testify about the characteristics of women in abusive relationships in order to help explain Seal's behavior to the jury.

Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton countered that Wetendorf is a self-proclaimed victims' advocate, and is consequently biased and likely to believe Seal's allegations simply because she is an alleged victim.

Watson said Wetendorf would not take the stand to offer an opinion on whether Seal was telling the truth.

”An expert doesn't opine as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant or as to whether the victim is telling the truth,” Watson said. “Those are the province of the jury.”

☛ ER Domestic violence expert to testify
In the narrow ruling, Wetendorf will only be allowed to answer questions about those characteristics, why victims recant previous statements and why they stay with an abuser.

Wetendorf will not be allowed to bring in her expertise in a niche field of domestic violence she has been researching for the past 10 years — that of domestic violence at the hands of a law enforcement official.

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge W. Bruce Watson said he would not allow questions about alleged victims of domestic violence making false allegations, a key point that Gundersen’s attorney Russell Clanton wanted to address as well.

“There has to be strict limitations,” he said, adding that an expert is not there to weigh on the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

The hearing turned heated at times as Clanton tried several times to question Wetendorf about that point and on biases that she, as an advocate, would be bringing into the courtroom.

“I think if an expert is going to assist a jury,” Clanton said, “it should be giving information from an origin that is not biased.”

Watson said that experts don’t have to be unbiased when on the stand.


Former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen has been cleared of all major charges first filed against him in 2008. - Arcata Eye MARCH 2012



  1. For what it's worth, and for all who are interested, here's Wetendorf's website: It's got some very interesting material!

  2. You know, if you have to bring in a lot of experts and hangers on to 'splain which version of what YOUR immunized witness said should be believed, it's an indicator that the case is a little spun out of control. However
    PVG has a secret weapon.
    Russ Clanton. Has he ever won a serious case? Dope don't count.


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