Willamette Law Online

Oregon Court of Appeals


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State v. Codon

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 02-01-2012
Case #: A143373
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Brewer, C.J. & Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A143373.pdf

Evidence: It is plain error for a trial court to admit a medical expert's diagnosis of sexual abuse in the absence of physical findings to support the diagnosis; inferences, for purposes of the plain error analysis, must be plausible.

Defendant was convicted of two counts of rape. The victim was his teenage stepdaughter. At trial, the state's medical expert testified that the victim had been sexually abused, but the diagnosis was not based on physical findings. Defendant appealed, arguing that it was plain error for the trial court to admit the diagnosis in the absence of physical evidence of abuse. The state argued that there was no plain error, and in the alternative, the Court should not exercise its discretion to correct any error because Defendant's failure to object to the expert's testimony supported the inference that he wanted the diagnosis admitted. The Court of Appeals repeated the standard set forth in Southard; that it is plain error for a trial court to admit a medical expert's diagnosis of sexual abuse in the absence of physical findings to support the diagnosis. The Court further explained that, for purposes of the plain error analysis, inferences must be plausible. The Court concluded that the state's inference was not plausible. Reversed and remanded.