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Ventura County | IN BRIEF / OXNARD

Court to Review Law on False Accusations

January 25, 2002

The California Supreme Court agreed this week to review a lower court ruling that a state law prohibiting false accusations against police officers is unconstitutional.

The decision stems from the case of Oxnard residents Barbara "Sunny" Atkinson and Shaun Stanistreet, who were convicted in 1998 of falsely accusing a city police officer of exposing himself to a group of teens at a 1997 party.

A state appellate court overturned those convictions in October, saying the law on which the two were arrested violates the 1st Amendment. Ventura County prosecutors believe the statute is valid, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Schwartz.

Atkinson, the former director of an Oxnard anti-gang program, and Stanistreet also asked the state Supreme Court to find that their accusations against the officer were true, but that appeal was denied.

In December, the couple each filed $30-million claims against the Oxnard Police Department alleging wrongful arrest.

A hearing before the Supreme Court has not yet been set.

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