Maryland Lawyers Frederick Criminal Sexual Assault
Winner v. State
After the trial court granted the State’s motion in limine, to prohibit defendant’s counsel from cross-examining a witness about any benefit he might receive in exchange for testimony, defendant was convicted of sexual degree sexual assault in Frederick. The Court of Special Appeals (Maryland) affirmed. Defendant’s petition for a writ of certiorari was granted.
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The Maryland Court made the following holding:
- While it is clear that a trial judge is not obligated to allow cross-examination about every charge pending against a State’s witness, Md. R. 5-616(a)(4) grants a criminal defendant the right to question a State’s witness about facts that are of consequence to the issue of whether the witness is biased, prejudiced, interested in the outcome of the proceeding, or has a motive to testify falsely. Circumstantial evidence of a witness’s self interest is admissible because even an untruthful man will not usually lie without a motive.
- The issue of bias is often generated by circumstantial evidence, and does not disappear merely because a witness denies any reason to be biased. If such circumstantial evidence exists, the trier of fact is entitled to observe the witness’s demeanor as he or she responds to questions permitted by Md. R. 5-616(a)(4). When the trier of fact is a jury, questions permitted by Md. R. 5-616(a)(4) should be prohibited only if (1) there is no factual foundation for such an inquiry in the presence of the jury; or (2) the probative value of such an inquiry is substantially outweighed by the danger of undue prejudice or confusion. To the extent that the analysis of the Supreme Court of Connecticut is inconsistent with Watkins v. State, 328 Md. 95, 613 A.2d 379 (1992) and/or Ebb v. State, 341 Md. 578, 671 A.2d 974 (1996), those cases are hereby overruled.
We have client meeting locations in Montgomery County (Rockville) & Baltimore, Maryland. We will do our absolute best to help you get the best result possible based on the facts of your case. Our law firm has the necessary experience to assist you with this matter.
These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.