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State v. Dalby

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-15-2012
Case #: A145216
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A145216.pdf

Criminal Procedure: While mentioning to a jury that a defendant exercised and invoked the right to remain silent is "presumably" harmful, it only becomes reversible error if the evidence comes "in a context whereupon inferences prejudicial to the defendant are likely to be drawn by the jury."

Defendant appealed his jury conviction for possession of a controlled substance (crack cocaine in a pipe). Defendant moved for a mistrial when the officer, on direct examination, made two comments regarding Defendant invoking his right to remain silent. The trial court denied the motion, and Defendant was convicted. Defendant argued that those statements violated his constitutional right to remain silent and resulted in an unfair trial. The State responded that the evidence was not so prejudicial that it deprived Defendant of a fair trial. The Court affirmed, holding that, while mentioning to a jury that a defendant exercised and invoked the right to remain silent is “presumably harmful,” it becomes reversible error when prejudicial inferences are likely to be drawn by the jury. In this case, Defendant’s trial focused primarily on the charge of resisting arrest, not possession, and Defendant never argued that he did not possess the pipe. Therefore, it is unlikely that the jury drew the inference that Defendant exercised his rights because he did not want to be questioned about the pipe or its contents. Affirmed.