State v. Jones

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-12-2015
  • Case #: A156249
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, P.J. for the Court; Nakamoto, J.; & Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A trial court’s error in excluding evidence in a criminal trial is harmless if, based on other, properly allowed evidence, the judgment rendered would be the same as if the questioned evidence were excluded. A trial court’s error in sentencing is harmless if the ultimate sentence is lawful and error has no practical effect on a criminal defendant.

Defendant appealed from a conviction of two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, arguing that the trial court erred in denying witness impeachment evidence and in sentencing. Defendant was arrested for firing multiple gunshots at two victims near a TriMet MAX platform. Police responded to the incident, and, after a high-speed chase, arrested Defendant. Evidence presented at trial included DNA evidence from the gun handle, surveillance video from the TriMet MAX platform, and witness testimony from both victims. Defendant attempted to introduce impeachment evidence of one of the witness’s prior criminal history of failure to appear in court. The trial court sustained the State’s objection. The trial court elevated Defendant’s sentence for his second count, based on prior criminal history, including his first count. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by excluding the impeachment evidence, and by elevating his sentence based on conduct arising out of the same series of criminal events. The State conceded that the court erred on both issues, but argued that the errors were harmless. The Court agreed that the trial court committed harmless error on both issues, due to the amount of other incriminating evidence against Defendant and because the sentence was a lawful departure from Defendant’s requested sentence. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment.

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