A Book from the Library of Defense

Oregon Supreme Court, January 14, 2021

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by: Rankin Johnson • January 19, 2021 • no comments


Summarized by Rankin Johnson, OCDLA

EVIDENCE - Doctrine of chances

Doctrine of chances is not exception to general prohibition on propensity evidence. Reversed.

The Supreme Court held that prior bad driving was not admissible to show that the bad driving leading to criminal charges had been intentional. The doctrine of chances, it explained, was only applicable when there were multiple events, all claimed to be accidents, and the proponent sought to prove that some of them were actually deliberate. It is not applicable when, as in this case, some of the uncharged events are clearly not accidental. In so holding, the court disavowed contrary reasoning in State v. Johns 301 Or 535 (1986).

The court emphasized the importance of determining the purpose of evidence before determining its admissibility.

State v. Skillicorn 367 Or 464 (January 14, 2021) (Duncan) (Washington County, Knapp)