Oregon Supreme Court, July 2, 2020
Summarized by Rankin Johnson, OCDLA
JURY INSTRUCTIONS - Witness-false-in-part instruction
Witness-false-in-part instruction must be given when evidence exists from which the jury could conclude that a witness had consciously testified falsely.
The court explained that failure to give a jury instruction is reviewed for legal error, not abuse of discretion. The court overruled prior contrary cases.
Defendant, a black man, was accused of sexual assault against a white victim. According to police reports, the victim had said that "a strong muscular black man" could catch her if she ran. On the stand, she denied making that statement.
The defense theory was that the victim had consented to the encounter and falsely accused defendant when her boyfriend appeared. In holding that the error was prejudicial, the court observed that the case was a swearing contest between defendant and the victim.
State v. Payne 366 Or 588 (July 2, 2020) (Nakamoto) (Multnomah County, LeBarre)