State v. Cook

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 07-30-2014
  • Case #: A151489
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: DeVore, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Edmonds, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Erroneous admission of hearsay evidence is unacceptable only when the error is harmful in that it has a possible influence on the verdict rendered. When the erroneously admitted hearsay evidence is central to the parties’ theory of the case and their credibility, the error will be considered harmful and influential to the rendered verdict.

Defendant appealed convictions for unlawful delivery of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, interfering with a peace officer, and tampering with physical evidence. Defendant and his girlfriend were pulled over and arrested. The arresting officers found a bag of methamphetamine, baggies, a tin of “cut,” and a scale in their possession. During trial, the arresting officer testified to statements made by the girlfriend, who was not present. The trial court overruled the Defendant’s timely hearsay objection. On appeal, Defendant’s central assignment of error was the admission of hearsay evidence. While the state admits to error in allowing the hearsay evidence, they argue that the error did not affect the verdict. The Court decided that the admission of the hearsay evidence was not harmless because, in regards to the totality of the circumstances, the error was related to the jury’s determination of its verdict because the erroneously admitted evidence was central to Defendant’s theory of the case and his credibility. The charge for tampering with physical evidence is affirmed, while the other three charges are reversed and remanded for resentencing.

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