State v. Middleton

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 04-17-2013
  • Case #: A145754
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The jury is presumed to have followed the Court's instructions to disregard testimony, absent a high probability that they would be unable to do so.

Defendant appealed his conviction of multiple counts of sexual offenses. At trial, Defendant moved for mistrial following the prosecution’s opening statement, and the testimony from the prosecution’s witnesses. Testimony was struck from the record on three out of the four occasions, and instructions were given to the jury to disregard the testimony. On appeal, Defendant contends that he did not receive a fair trial because evidence of his prior record was off limits, yet the prosecutor’s statement and the testimony of witnesses permitted the jury to deduce that Defendant had prior convictions for sexual offenses. The Court held that a jury is presumed to have followed the trial court’s instruction absent a high probability that they would be unable to do so. The Court found no heightened level of probability in any of the three occasions and there was no reason to assume that the jury did not follow the trial court’s instructions to disregard the evidence. The Court acknowledged that this was a close case, however, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing Defendant's motion for mistrial. Affirmed.

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