People v. Regan


Issue Presented: Although the complainant identified Mr. Regan as her rapist on day one, it took
the prosecution four years to obtain a simple warrant for his DNA, a delay undisputedly
attributable to pure negligence. Was Mr. Regan deprived of his due process right to a prompt

Holding: Yes.

CAL Observes: Judge Wilson’s straightforward majority opinion applied the familiar Taranovich factors to this
case. In short, the excessive delay was due to prosecutorial negligence (apparently the DA’s
office just didn’t know how, as a procedural matter, to obtain a DNA warrant). The remaining
factors (including the seriousness of the crime and the fact that Regan was at liberty) did not
counterbalance that extraordinary incompetence. Notably, although the Court held that Regan did
not show any “special prejudice,” it reaffirmed the important principle that he was “not required
to do so under our case law.”

More interesting is Judge Singas’s dissent, which provided a detailed history of the “uphill
battle” faced by women who report rape, from its origins in common law as merely a property
crime to more recent anti-victim bias in legislation, law enforcement, and judicial decisionmaking.
Although Singas conceded the prosecution’s negligence, she would have excused it
because this was a rape case, blaming the majority for “reaffirm[ing] rape culture’s pernicious
grasp on our criminal justice system.”

That view–essentially that our government can be profoundly irresponsible in rape cases because
it has historically been profoundly irresponsible in rape cases–does not square with the record in
this case (in which there was no actual record evidence of any of the insidious biases Singas
noted) or, more importantly, with the cherished constitutional value that criminal defendants
have a due process right to be promptly prosecuted no matter the charges.