State v. Taylor

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 12-30-2015
  • Case #: A154655
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Confrontation Clause of Article I, section 11, requires the court to allow a defendant to cross-examine a complaining witness about past accusations: (1) when the witness has recanted the accusations; (2) when the defendant demonstrates that those accusations were false; or (3) there is some evidence that the victim has made prior accusations that were false, unless the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the risk of prejudice, confusion, embarrassment or delay. “A trial court has authority to preclude [cross-examination based on the third category] when it reasonably determines that exploration of the previous incident would essentially require an unhelpful trial within a trial.”

Defendant was convicted of felony assault. Defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred when it precluded him from impeaching the victim with evidence that she had previously made a false accusation of abuse against him. At trial, Defendant wanted to impeach the victim by introducing evidence of a reported domestic violence situation that California police concluded did not occur. There are three circumstances when the court must allow a defendant to cross-examine a complaining witness about past accusations: (1) when the witness has recanted the accusations; (2) when the defendant demonstrates that those accusations were false; or (3) when there is some evidence that the victim has made prior accusations that were false, unless the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by the risk of prejudice, confusion, embarrassment or delay. The California report did not demonstrate that Defendant did not assault the victim, only that there were no injuries present when the police arrived. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding evidence of the California report because otherwise the jury would have been required to determine the truth or falsity of the past accusation as well as the present one. Affirmed.

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