Oregon Supreme Court, March 17, 2021
Summarized by Rankin Johnson, OCDLA
TRIAL PROCEDURE - New trial motions
Trial court did not err in ordering new trial after failing to instruct jury on mens rea element. Trial court affirmed, Court of Appeals reversed.
Defendant did not object to the erroneous instruction, and the state argued that the new-trial motion should have been denied due to the lack of an objection. The court explained that some elements of the new-trial rule require contemporaneous objection, and others do not. Ruling on a new-trial motion, and later review, is inextricably linked to the specific subsection of the rule. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting a new trial for "irregularity in the proceedings" even in the absence of an objection.
The court agreed with the state that the trial court would abuse its discretion in granting a new trial for a harmless error. The error in this case was harmful.
State v. Ramoz 367 Or 670 (March 17, 2021) (Walters) (Jackson County, Barnack)