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Appellate Procedure – Harmless Error – Right to Present Defense

State v. Thomas G. Kramer, 2006 WI App 133, PFR filed 7/10
For Kramer: Timothy A. Provis

Issue/Holding: Any error in exclusion of evidence claimed necessary to support the theory of imperfect self-defense would have been harmless:

¶26      …  Our inquiry, therefore, is whether it is “clear beyond a reasonable doubt that a rational jury would have found the defendant guilty absent the error.” Neder v. United States, 527 U.S. 1, 18 (1999); see also State v. Harvey, 2002 WI 93, ¶46, 254 Wis.  2d 442, 647 N.W.2d 189. “In other words, if it is ‘clear beyond a reasonable doubt that a rational jury would have [rendered the same verdict] absent the error,’ then the error did not ‘contribute to the verdict,’” and is therefore harmless. Hannemann v. Boyson, 2005 WI 94, ¶57, 282 Wis.  2d 664, 698 N.W.2d 714 (quoting Neder, 527 U.S. at 15, 18).¶27      Applying the harmless error analysis, we conclude it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury would still have found Kramer guilty of first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide had it heard the excluded evidence. We have no doubt that the jury would not have relied on this evidence to find that Kramer subjectively thought he was in such great danger of death or great bodily harm that he needed to retrieve a weapon and fire it at the officers.

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