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Opinion Testimony – Comment by One Witness Whether another Witness Truthful

State v. Patrick R. Patterson, 2009 WI App 161
For Patterson: David R. Karpe

Issue/Holding:

¶35      The first three alleged instances of misconduct are similar. In each instance, the prosecutor sought to demonstrate the possible unreliability of one witness’s recollection by using seemingly inconsistent recollections of another witness. For example, in one instance the prosecutor asked: “So if all other witnesses said that at 11:00 your mom was already home … that would be wrong?” We see no Haseltine problem with these three instances because the prosecutor was not asking a witness to opine as to whether another witness was telling the truth.¶36      The fourth alleged instance does appear to have involved a Haseltineviolation. The prosecutor asked a police investigator: “Do you believe [a witness the investigator interviewed] was being truthful when she gave [certain] information to you …?” The investigator answered, “I believe she was being truthful.” It does not appear that this exchange was offered for any purpose other than bolstering the credibility of the other witness. Cf. State v. Snider, 2003 WI App 172, ¶27, 266 Wis. 2d 830, 668 N.W.2d 784 (detective’s testimony offered to show the detective’s thought process during his investigation); State v. Smith, 170 Wis. 2d 701, 718-19, 490 N.W.2d 40 (Ct. App. 1992) (a detective’s testimony that he did not believe a witness was properly introduced to show why he continued interrogating the witness). Accordingly, we will assume that the exchange ran afoul of Haseltine.

This tainted exchange, however, wasn’t “particularly important”; no harm, no foul, ¶37.

 

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