State v. Hooper
Case #: A147013
Ortega, P.J. for the Court, Sercombe, J; and De Muniz, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A147013.pdf
Criminal Procedure: A trial court's statement to counsel that there is, "no issue here as to venue," in the presence of the jury is not an abuse of discretion where the jury is otherwise instructed that venue is a material element.
Defendant appealed a conviction of reckless driving and reckless endangerment. During closing arguments at trial, Defendant began to argue that, since the crime occurred in transit, a more convenient location for trial would be in a different County. The trial judge limited this statement in his closing argument, stating that there was, “no issue here as to venue.” On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by not allowing him to argue that the State had failed to prove venue. The Court of Appeals held that in limiting the Defendant’s argument, the jury would not be lead to believe that venue was not a material element, since the trial court’s statement was aimed at limiting Defendant’s argument regarding the convenience of the trial location, an issue decided following his pretrial motion. The Court further held that the judge’s statements were not comments on the evidence. Affirmed.