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Particular Examples of Misconduct, § 904.04(2) — Motive to Flee: Outstanding Warrants — “Not Classic ‘Other Crimes’ Evidence”

State v. Brian D. Seefeldt, 2002 WI App 149, affirmed2003 WI 47
For Seefeldt: Donald T. Lang, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding:

¶23. We are satisfied that the reference to the outstanding warrants is not classic “other acts” evidence invoking Wis. Stat. § 904.04(2) analysis. Rather, the existence of the warrants is “part of the panorama of evidence” that directly supports Seefeldt’s defense and sits at the heart of his right to present exculpatory evidence. See Johnson, 184 Wis. 2d at 349, 354 (Anderson, P.J., concurring). Therefore, Carroll’s remarks did not cause the jury to hear any information that would have rendered the proceedings unfair to the State.

Admissibility was really subsidiary to the main issue, whether defense counsel’s mentioning outstanding warrants for Seefeldt’s girlfriend established the latter’s motive to flee in their car created a manifest necessity for mistrial. As the quote above suggests, the court of appeals held that this reference didn’t involve “classic ‘other acts’ evidence” and therefore no manifest necessity existed for mistrial. On the question of manifest necessity, the supreme court affirmed, and its handling of the subsidiary question of admissibility is consistent with the court of appeals, ¶39 (this evidence would have been admissible on the issue of the girlfriend’s motive for engaging in a high speed chase, and also her bias to curry favor for subsequent incriminaiton of Seefeldt).

 

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