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State v. Arreola

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-20-2012
Case #: A144001
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A144001.pdf

Evidence: Where curative instruction is insufficient to cure prejudicial effect on the jury, denial of mistrial is improper.

Defendant appealed his jury conviction for various sexual charges. At trial, two expert witnesses testified that the alleged victim had been sexually abused, based on the credibility of victim’s report. Following the testimony, the Oregon Supreme Court held that such testimony is inadmissible. Defendant moved for mistrial. The trial judge denied the mistrial and instead instructed the jury to disregard the testimony of the two expert witnesses. On appeal, Defendant argued that the testimony was so prejudicial he was denied a fair trial, regardless of the instruction to the jury. The Court of Appeals agreed with Defendant, holding that where the expert testimony was inadmissible, because it was based solely on credibility and did not tell the jury anything it was not equally capable of determining on its own, that the limiting instruction was insufficient to cure the prejudice. The jury is assumed to have followed instructions except when there is an overwhelming probability that they would be unable to do so. Reversed and remanded.