State v. Hernandez

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 02-25-2015
  • Case #: A150027
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, C.J.; & Schuman, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Evidence as to whether a witness has a personal interest in a case is relevant, and failure to admit such evidence may not be harmless error if the jury is not fully informed of the facts necessary to assess the credibility of that witness.

Defendant appealed his convictions for harassment and sexual abuse in the third degree, which were based on allegations by Defendant’s former employee, Carranza. At trial, Defendant argued Carranza had fabricated the allegations in order to obtain money and a U visa, a visa available to victims of crime. Defendant presented evidence that Carranza had demanded $25,000 from him, and that Carranza was illegally in the country, was subject to deportation, and aware that if she were the victim of a crime she could apply for a U visa. The State objected to this evidence, and the trial court sustained. Defendant appealed, contending that the trial court erred by prohibiting Defendant from asking Carranza whether she intended to get a U visa, and contending that the evidence was relevant and admissible to impeach Carranza. The State did not dispute that the trial court erred, but argued Defendant did not preserve the error, and alternatively that the error was harmless. The Court held the trial court erred and that the error was not harmless. Evidence of whether Carranza was seeking a U visa was relevant in determining whether she had a personal interest in the case, and the error was not harmless because the jury was not fully informed of the facts relevant to assessing her credibility. Reversed and remanded.

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