State v. Vanderzanden

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 10-01-2014
  • Case #: A152270
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett J., for the Court; Ortega P.J.; & DeVore J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A jury instruction that follows the statute must not construe the statutory language contrary to caselaw.

Defendant was convicted of driving while his license was revoked. While Defendant and two friends ventured out to collect firewood, the driver aggravated a previous neck injury and snow began to fall. Defendant drove the vehicle because his friend’s injury prevented him from could driving stick shift. Defendant argued that the trial court should have allowed a specific jury instruction by defendant, and that the trial court erred when it refused to give the Defendant’s jury instruction: "The qualifying injury or threat of injury that the defendant believed was occurring need not be life threatening; it only has to be an injury that could cause pain to another person." On appeal, defendant argued the instruction given by the state failed to frame the "urgency of the circumstances" in terms of Defendant's "reasonable belief." Defendant also argued that the trial court's instruction was incorrect and prejudicial because it only partially incorporated the "reasonable belief" component. The state responded that the instruction "covered the statutory requirements." The Court held that the states jury instructions were incomplete and inaccurate. The Court held that the jury could have interpreted the requested phrase as a directive from the court to conclude that the defendant had such a belief. Reversed and remanded.

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