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State v. Olu A. Rhodes, 2009AP25, Wis SCt rev Granted 9/24/10

decision below: unpublished; prior On Point post; for Rhodes: John J. Grau

Issue (from Table of Pending Cases):

Whether a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to confront a witness in cross-examination was infringed, and, if so, whether the infringement was harmless error.

Homicide case, tried on State’s theory Rhodes had motive to kill victim for beating Rhodes’ sister; court of appeals reversed because trial judge cut off cross-examination that Rhodes did not react violently in response to prior harm inflicted by victim on sister. This limitation denied fair trial, because it deprived jury of “a full picture of the dynamics that roiled the relationships in this case.” Well, you will undoubtedly say: Right or wrong, this sounds awfully fact-specific, and application of settled law to discrete facts is left to the court of appeals! But then, you simply forget that this is a State’s petition, and therefore necessarily satisfies Rule 809.62.

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