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False Testimony

State v. Larry J. Sprosty, 2001 WI App 231, PFR filed

For Sprosty: Jack E. Schairer, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue: Whether an expert witness’s testimony should have been struck retrospectively when it became known, after the proceeding had concluded, that he had lied about his credentials and background, and had committed misconduct, causing him to be fired.

Holding: “¶33. We cannot conclude that the circuit court’s refusal to strike Thomalla’s testimony was improper. While Thomalla’s past misconduct and misleading testimony may have impaired his credibility, it does not make his testimony incredible as a matter of law. See In re Spengler, 228 Wis. 2d 250, 258, 596 N.W.2d 818 (Ct. App. 1999) (holding that court of appeals may not reverse circuit court’s determinations regarding credibility unless the witness is credible or incredible as a matter of law). First, we agree with the circuit court that although Thomalla may have given inaccurate testimony regarding his job titles and the length of time he held a particular job, there is no dispute that he is a licensed psychologist or that he has experience evaluating sexually violent persons. Second, we are not convinced that Thomalla’s dishonesty regarding his curriculum vitae suggests his opinion regarding the likelihood that Sprosty will reoffend is similarly unreliable.” Nor did belated revelation of these matters deny Sprosty effective cross-examination: The possibility that the witness thought he could save his job by giving favorable testimony to the state is speculation; and, there was no prejudice from being unable to cross-examine on inaccuracies in the witness’s curriculum vitae. ¶37.

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