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State v. Sanchez-Jacobo

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-27-2012
Case #: A139993
Brewer, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A139993.pdf

Criminal Law: It was not improper "vouching" for a witness's credibility when she testified that part of her plea bargain included coming to court and telling the truth, and a prosecutor's misstatement of law during closing argument was not plain error, nor was it preserved on appeal.

Defendant appealed his various convictions. Defendant argued two assignments of error: (1) the trial court erred in overruling his objection when his wife testified that part of her plea bargain was to come to court and “tell the truth,” therefore improperly “vouching” for her credibility, and (2) the trial court erred in not granting Defendant a mistrial sua sponte when the prosecutor stated in closing argument that, “at the point in the trial, the presumption of innocence will evaporate.” First, a witness’s testimony may not explicitly or directly contain an opinion as to a trial witness’s credibility. However, the Court of Appeals found the wife’s testimony admissible, not improper, because it contained no such comment on her credibility. Second, the Court found that, while the prosecutor’s misstatement of law was error, it was brief, not central to the state’s argument, and defense counsel never objected. Therefore, it was not plain error and the Court chose not to exercise discretion to correct. Affirmed.