State v. Thomas
Case #: A149826
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Hadlock, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149826.pdf
Evidence: Under OEC 609, record of a previous judgment is considered public record for purposes of impeachment against an adverse witness when it can be established that the judgment is part of an actual public record.
Defendant appealed her conviction of criminal mischief. At trial, Defendant argued that another person had committed the crime. This individual acted as the State’s primary witness and testified that he had been convicted one time for attempted second-degree robbery. Defense counsel sought to impeach him by introducing a certified OJIN register that indicated that the witness had committed a second crime. The trial court refused to admit this evidence, concluding it was not a certified copy of the judgment and was unreliable. On appeal, Defendant argued that the second conviction was established by a public record because OJIN is a public record and should be allowed as impeachment evidence under OEC 609. The Court held that record of a previous judgment is considered public record for purposes of impeachment against an adverse witness when it can be established that the judgment is part of an actual public record. Here, the OJIN register was a public record and was sufficiently reliable because it is required, by law, to document all circuit court proceedings. Additionally, the trial court erred when it indicated that the judgment must be a certified copy. Reversed and remanded.