F. C. L. v. Agustin

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 05-13-2015
  • Case #: A154753
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Lagesen, J.; & Flynn, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Fourteenth Amendment's right to due process gives defendants protection from overly coercive statements from the trial court about the risks of giving false testimony.

Defendant appealed a judgment of punitive contempt for a violation of a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order. On review, the Court considered whether the judge’s remarks to Defendant were impermissibly coercive, violating Defendant’s right to testify under Article 1, section 11 of the Oregon Constitution and the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a judge from administering overly coercive warnings regarding the risks of testify falsely. The Sixth Amendment’s compulsory process clause secures a defendant’s right to call his or herself to the stand to testify on his or her own behalf, and “unnecessarily strong terms” from the trial court to dissuade the defendant from testifying violate due process. Defendant in the present case was told by the judge that witnesses for the prosecution were very credible, and that the judge’s 35 years of legal experience told the judge that Defendant would lie were Defendant to testify. Defendant was also told that the punishment were be harsher were Defendant to testify. On appeal, the Court held the judge’s remarks to be impermissibly coercive. Reversed and remanded.

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