Oregon v. Alarcon
Case #: A144927
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, C.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A144927.pdf
Criminal Procedure: A judgment for conviction notwithstanding an erroneous admission of evidence will be affirmed if there is little likelihood that the admission of the evidence affected the verdict. The court will consider the nature of the erroneously admitted evidence in the context of other evidence on the same issue.
Alarcon was convicted of one count of first-degree assault, three counts of fourth-degree assault, and four counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment, relating to the abuse of two children. On appeal, Alarcon contended that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress evidence obtained during an interrogation conducted by police detectives on a Monday, following her request on the prior Saturday to speak with an attorney. She asserted that the interrogation violated her right to counsel because she unequivocally invoked her right to counsel prior to the questioning on Monday. The Court of Appeals concluded that, even if Alarcon’s invocation was equivocal, police failed to adequately clarify her intent. Accordingly, the Court concluded that the trial court erred in admitting Alarcon’s statements obtained during the Monday interrogation. However, the Court concluded that the error in this case was harmless given the nature and extent of Alarcon’s confessions during her first interview, as there was little likelihood that the admission of her statements from her second interview affected the verdict.