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Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

System Error: Court Of Appeals Of Minnesota Uses Invited Error Doctrine To Squelch Appeal

Like its federal counterpartMinnesota Rule of Evidence 404(a) provides in relevant part that

Evidence of a person's character or a trait of character is not admissible for the purpose of proving action in conformity therewith on a particular occasion....

That said, Minn.Stat. § 634.20 provides in relevant part that

Evidence of similar conduct by the accused against the victim of domestic abuse, or against other family or household members, is admissible unless the probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issue, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence....

§ 634.20 might have made a difference in State v. McCoy, 2012 WL 539140 (Minn.App. 2012), but because the invited error doctrine applied, it didn't matter.

In McCoy, David McCoy was convicted of felony domestic assault by strangulation and gross-misdemeanor domestic assault. After he was convicted, McCoy appealed, claiming, inter alia, that the trial court erred by admitting evidence that the alleged victim had previously reported that she had been with McCoy for approximately a year and that she had been assaulted about once per month

At trial, however, the court initially deemed evidence of this report inadmissible before finding that recordings of other reports were admissible. Thereafter, when the prosecution planned to play only 40 minutes of the approximately 90 minutes of tape of the alleged victim's reports, defense counsel said, "[I]f you are going to play any [of the tapes], I think it should all be played."

In addressing McCoy's appeal, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota found that the subject evidence might have been covered by § 634.20. But the court didn't even need to reach this conclusion because "[t]he invited error doctrine prevents a party from asserting an error on appeal that he invited or could have prevented in the court below." And, because any error by the trial court was invited by defense counsel, there were no grounds for a reversal.

-CM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/2012/02/like-its-federal-counterpartminnesota-rule-of-evidence-404aprovides-in-relevant-part-that-evidence-of-a-persons-charact.html

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