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RHODE ISLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A Practice Manual, 4th Edition
© John E. MacDonald
“.since the purpose of cross-examination is to impeach a witness’ credibility, the general rule that confines the scope of cross-examination to facts brought out during direct examination is inapplicable when the questions are designed either to explain, contradict, or discredit any testimony given by the witness on direct examination or to test his accuracy, memory, veracity or credibility.”
State v. Crowhurst, 470 A.2d 1138, 1143 (R.I. 1984).
State v. Roderigues, 656 A.2d 192 (R.I. 1995). In a second-degree child molestation case, the defendant called a social worker to testify about the complainant’s smiley face drawing. On cross, the state elicited testimony that complainant was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of sexual abuse received by defendant. R.I.S.C. reversed.
State v. Freeman, 473 A.2d 1149 (R.I. 1984). In a murder case in which the only witness that observed the incident was defendant’s girlfriend, the trial judge’s refusal to allow cross-examination as to her status as a detained arrestee on the evening she gave her second inculpatory statement constituted reversible error.
State v. Texter, 594 A.2d 376 (R.I. 1991). The trial judge’s refusal to allow cross-examination of the complainant and her husband’s potential grudge against defendant was reversible error. Defendant had accused complainant’s husband of stealing money from the church and threatened to report him. The accusations against defendant came shortly thereafter.
, 644 A.2d 1287 (R.I. 1994). In a first-degree murder trial, the defense was precluded from cross-examining a state witness as to a prior inconsistent statement. The state argued and the trial judge agreed that the written statement was missing some punctuation marks that would render it consistent with the witness’s testimony at trial. R.I.S.C. reversed.
State v. Clark, 974 A.2d 558 (R.I. 2009). Trial judge granted the state’s motion in limine to preclude the defendant from cross-examining the victim about his alcohol consumption on the night defendant allegedly assaulted him. R.I.S.C. held that trial judge did not err in granting the motion.
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