RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE A Practice Manual – IN-COURT DEMONSTRATIONS

RI Criminal Defense Practice Manual CoverRHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A Practice Manual, 4th Edition
© John E. MacDonald

IN-COURT DEMONSTRATIONS

State v. Wiley, 567 A.2d 802 (R.I. 1989). In-court demonstration by the prosecution resulted in reversible error when it took place under circumstances not substantially similar to those that existed at the time of the alleged incident. The trial judge also erred when he gave his personal estimates of the results of the courtroom demonstration.

A proponent of a courtroom demonstration must lay a preliminary foundation as to the similarity of conditions.
The trial judge may not comment on the results of any in-court experiment because the results are within the sole province of the fact finder.
State v. Perry, 574 A.2d 149 (R.I. 1990). The trial judge’s refusal to allow a courtroom demonstration of a video camera operation was affirmed. The conditions in court were not substantially similar because the equipment was different and the officer involved had aged.

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