STATE v. EUGENE DAVIS, SC 18537
Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at G.A. 1
Criminal; Impeachment; Constitutional Rights to Confrontation and to Present a Defense; Whether Trial Court Improperly Precluded or Limited Impeachment Evidence and Cross-examination of Victim. The defendant was convicted of two counts of first degree assault in connection with two shooting incidents involving the same victim. The defendant denied involvement in the shootings and claimed that the victim falsely identified him as his assailant. At trial, the defendant attempted to impeach the victim's credibility by questioning him as to why he initially told police that he did not know who shot him. The victim testified that his girlfriend was close to the defendant's family and that he did not identify the defendant because he did not want to harm his relationship with her. Believing that the victim's reason was false, the defendant asked if the victim had ever been frustrated with his girlfriend or had ever had a fight with her. The trial court refused the allow the question on the ground that it went to a prior disorderly conduct case against the victim, which was irrelevant to the present case and which it had already ruled was inadmissible. The victim also testified that, in two pending felony cases against him, he had not received any deals or promises regarding favorable treatment from the state in exchange for his testimony against the defendant. The defendant offered transcript from the victim's cases, which the defendant claimed contained statements by the victim's attorney indicating that the victim was expecting favorable treatment. The trial court refused to admit the transcript on the ground that it was inadmissible hearsay. The defendant also attempted to ask the victim the name of a felony of which he had previously been convicted. Finding that the question was irrelevant because the felony did not relate to the victim's veracity, the trial court refused to allow the question. Also, the trial court refused to allow the defendant - on relevancy grounds - to question the victim about his use of profanity and inappropriate conduct while in court on another matter and about an alleged tattoo on his arm containing language disrespectful to police officers. On appeal, the defendant claims a violation of his constitutional rights and the rules of evidence by the trial court's rulings as to his use of impeachment evidence and his cross-examination of the victim.