State v. Thomas

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 04-01-2015
  • Case #: A151977
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, J., for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & Tookey, J.

When the court allows the State to improperly admit a "vouching" statement it is harmless error if the statement may actually bolster the defense's theory of the case.

Defendant appealed convictions of driving under the influence of intoxicants, resisting arrest, interfering with a peace officer, harassment, and refusing an intoxicant test. Defendant assigned error to the trial court’s ruling that allowed vouching evidence. Two officers escorted Defendant to the breathalyzer area at the jail. Officers testified that Defendant started yelling and began kicking one of the officers. Defendant testified that she was trying to put on her shoe when the officers took her to the ground. Earlier in the trial, one officer testifies that the other officer was "a good officer. He wouldn't make a mistake like that." The defense theory at trial was that the officers cooperated in mischaracterizing defendant's actions. The Court found that the statement actually bolstered Defendant's theory of the case. Rather than making the jury believe that the other officer was telling the truth, the officer’s statement was likely to make the jury believe that the two officers would back up each other’s versions of the event. The Court held that the error of admitting the statements was harmless. Affirmed.

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