State v. Hess

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-19-2015
  • Case #: A148263
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Edmonds, S.J.,and Nakamoto, J..
  • Full Text Opinion

When expert testimony that is proffered has no bearing on the capability of a criminal Defendant to perform a certain act, when that performance is the sole matter in question, it is irrelevant and should be excluded.

Defendant was accused of multiple counts of animal neglect and sought to have an expert testify that her mental illness caused an insatiable urge to acquire cats. The expert was to explain that the Defendant had an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), which caused her to need to feel needed and her large collection of cats was filling that desire. The Court here affirmed the trial court's exclusion, holding that under ORS 161.095(1), which describes alternate requirements—either the person must perform a voluntary act or the person must fail to perform an act that the person is capable of performing. Nothing the expert testified to attested to a literal physical inability to act and was therefore irrelevant. Next, the Defendant argued that certain jury instructions be given on the voluntary-act requirement for criminal liability, but here the Court found that the proposed jury instruction offered by the Defendant was a misstatement of the law. Affirmed.

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