State v. Sewell

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 07-10-2013
  • Case #: A143648
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Sercombe, J.; and Edmonds, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Evidence may be admitted at trial if its probative value is not substantially outweighed by the potential of unfair prejudice towards the Defendant.

Defendant appealed his conviction of third-degree sexual abuse. Defendant argued that, under OEC 403, the trial court erred when it allowed the victim to testify that the Defendant was unwilling to wear a condom during four sexual encounters. Defendant contended that whether or not a condom was used was not relevant and was prejudicial, because the issue was whether he had sexual intercourse with the victim prior to her turning eighteen, not whether he used a condom. Defendant argued that the victim’s testimony substantially impacted the jury’s opinion of the Defendant in a negative way, and was not relevant to the crime he was accused of. The State countered that the testimony was necessary to show the victim’s memory of the events, and to establish her credibility as a witness. The Court ruled that the lower court’s finding was within the scope of legally acceptable outcomes, when it determined that the evidence in question was critical to establishing the credibility of the victim as a witness. The Court held that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the probative value of the victim's testimony was not substantially outweighed by the potential of unfair prejudice to the Defendant. Affirmed.

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