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Particular Examples of Misconduct, § 904.04(2) — Harmless Error

State v. John J. Thoms, 228 Wis. 2d 868, 599 N.W.2d 84 (Ct. App. 1999)
For Thoms: Steven L. Miller

Holding: On a charge that Thoms sexually assaulted his sister, the trial court allowed the state to introduce evidence that, 14 years before, he had allegedly sexually assaulted both a stranger and his niece, as evidence of “common plan or scheme to obtain sexual gratification by force.” The court of appeals accepts the state’s concession of error under State v. DeKeyser, 221 Wis. 2d 435, 585 N.W.2d 668 (Ct. App. 1998), leaving harmless error as the only issue. The error is held reversible, for fact-specific reasons, the court stressing that this inadmissible evidence had the effect of bolstering the complainant’s credibility and undermining Thoms’, when the case turned on credibility.

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