State v. Abbott

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-12-2015
  • Case #: A154573
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A witness, expert or otherwise, may not give an opinion on whether he believes a another witness is telling the truth. This general prohibition against asking one witness to comment on the credibility of another applies on cross-examination where a prosecutor asks a criminal defendant whether a law enforcement officer is lying.

Defendant challenged his convictions for first-degree robbery, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, and second-degree robbery. Defendant raised eight assignments of error, all of which boiled down to a single issue: whether the trial court erred by allowing the prosecutor to ask Defendant, whether other witnesses had lied when their testimony contradicted Defendant’s. The eight assignments of error made by Defendant each correspond to questions asked by the prosecution to Defendant, regarding the truthfulness of other witnesses. Defendant argued that the trial court erred by allowing the question because a witness cannot give their opinion on whether the other he believes another witness is telling the truth. The State requested the court not review Defendant’s unpreserved arguments and also argued that any error made by the trial court was harmless. The Court agreed with the State, and did not address the unpreserved assignments, and found that in the face of the overwhelming evidence, the impermissible questions made by the prosecution likely did little to affect the jury verdict. Affirmed.

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