In Doe v. Superior Court (Mountain View School District), the Supreme Court today interprets several Evidence Code statutes as requiring careful assessments when a court is asked to override a general shield for plaintiffs in sexual harassment, assault, and battery cases from the introduction of evidence of their sexual conduct. The decision directs a superior court to reevaluate its ruling, in a case against a school district for negligently supervising a teacher who molested a fourth grader, that allowed evidence of a molestation two years later by someone else to be used to limit emotional distress damages attributable to the teacher’s misconduct.

The court’s unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero says that one statute “protect[s] against unwarranted intrusion into the private life of a plaintiff who sues for sexual assault, by identifying and circumscribing evidence that may be admitted to attack such a person’s credibility” and another statute “requires special informed review and scrutiny, designed to protect such a plaintiff’s privacy rights and to limit the introduction of evidence concerning such a person’s sexual conduct.” The court concludes that the superior court’s analysis left the plaintiff “in danger of what [one] statute was designed to avoid — unjustified and uncircumscribed intrusion into her privacy in the immediate presence of the jury.”

The court reverses the Second District, Division Two, Court of Appeal, published opinion.