State v. Urbaschak

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-22-2015
  • Case #: A154497
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Lagesen J.; & Wollheim S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Erroneously admitted evidence that is not cumulative and relates to a central disputed issue is not harmless error.

Defendant appealed his conviction for second-degree criminal mischief asserting that the trial court erred by admitting evidence in violation of the “best evidence” rule. Defendant was convicted of damaging a window on a MAX train. At trial, the State introduced photographs and surveillance video. Defendant objected to the video, arguing the best evidence rule. Only one officer had seen the video and testified to what he perceived Defendant to be doing on the video. On appeal, the State conceded that the trial court erred in admitting the testimony regarding the video, but argued that the error was harmless because the evidence was unlikely to effect the verdict as it was cumulative. The Court found that the erroneously admitted evidence was different from the other evidence in that it contained more details about how Defendant struck the window. The Court held that the erroneously admitted testimony related to Defendant’s intent, the central disputed issue at trial, and because that testimony was qualitatively different from other admitted evidence pertaining to Defendant’s intent. Reversed and remanded.

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