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The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said that the defendant had shown an error that is plain and obvious in the absence of objection a trial. The prosecutor failed to redact unfairly prejudicial materials from the judgment sentence documents. To the documents contained additional findings at the time of sentencing. The person who prepared the forms to not complete the documents but instead attach copies of the defendant’s criminal histories to the forms. One of the exhibits contained a pinch warrant issued for the defendant’s failure to appear at a preliminary hearing. These additional pages were irrelevant and prejudicial. Rules explicitly provide that certain forms shall not be admitted into evidence in any future prosecution.
The rap sheet which was attached to one the exhibits indicated that the defendant had a prior felony conviction for burglary. Criminal history is also attached listed convictions in another county in Mexico. The state did not allege either his convictions in the second page information. Also, a drivers license master record was attached to exhibit and exhibit and reflected other drug and alcohol offenses and administrative actions. The state was required to redact this other crimes and bad acts evidence from the judgment sentence exhibits.
Because this evidence was introduced in the second stage of trial, the jury’s determination of the defendant skill was unaffected. However, the appellate court found that this improper evidence affected the defendant substantial rights and seriously affected the fairness of the sentencing proceeding. Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale said because the jury recommended the maximum punishment under the statutory range of punishment for the offense, the appellate court could not find that this error was harmless. Therefore, the appellate court remanded the matter to the District Court for resentencing.
In his second argument, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Reviewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals found the any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the offense be unoriginal doubt. Any rational trier of fact could have found that the defendant was under the influence. The trooper and two other law enforcement officers all testify the based on the experience and training they believe that the defendant was under the influence of methamphetamine. The description of the defendant’s physical condition, coupled with a traffic violation to the two establish that intoxicating substance had affected the defendant so as to hinder to depreciable degree, his ability to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that an ordinary prudent in conscious person would.
In his third argument, the defendant contended that the trial court committed reversible error by failing to instruct the jury on the definitions of under the influence and with impaired ability. In a 1991 case the appellate court held unequivocally that the terms under the influence and with impaired ability when such constitute an element of an offense, this always be defined in the instructions, whether those are requested or not. The failure to do so by defining is fundamental error which will result in reversible error. The state conceded that the trial court failed to instruct the jury concerning the proper definitions but argues that the 1991 case conflicts with more recent cases holding that the omission jury instructions, even those defining elements of the fence, can be harmless. The appellate court agreed.
After the 1991 case was decided, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals held that the concept of fundamental error had been codified by the Oklahoma evidence code is plain error. Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale said that the court found that fundamental error is subject to the harmless her analysis. In doing so, the court overruled another 1991 case that held that to the contrary. If the defendant meets the heavy burden of demonstrating plain error, then that plain error subject to the harmless error analysis. If the error is a constitutional violation, then the appellate court will review to determine whether error is harmless be unoriginal doubt. If the error as a result of the failure to hear to stay law, then it is considered harmless unless the error has a substantial influence on the outcome of the case release according crave doubt as to whether it had such an effect.
Eight years later, the US Supreme Court held that instruction that emits an element of an offense can be subject to the harmless error doctrine. In 2004, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals recognized the Supreme Court’s holding in determined that only those errors which have previously been identified as structural errors require reversal regardless of the effect of on the outcome. If instruction omits an element of the offense or leaves the state of its burden of persuasion, the next question is whether it is clear be unoriginal doubt that a rational jury would have found the defendant guilty without the error.
The appellate court found that the trial court committed a plain error because he felt instruct the jury on the definitions of under the influence and with impaired ability. However, it said that it was clear be unoriginal doubt that a rational jury would’ve found the appellate guilty without this error. The trial court properly instructed the jury concerning all the elements of the charge. This instruction require the jury to determine that the defendant was under the influence of intoxicating substance which was capable of rendering him and capable of safely driving a vehicle.
The evidence of the defendant’s guilt was uncontroverted. All the witnesses believed he was intoxicated on methamphetamine. Also, the witnesses and agreed that the defendant was very animated, fidgety, dramatic, and was sweating profusely. The trooper observed additional signs of methamphetamine intoxication. He noted that the defendant speech was very thick and slurred. His mouth was very dry any he smacked his lips a lot while talking. The defendant’s pulse was readily observable through his neck and stomach areas. By this, the trooper determined that the defendant’s pulse was elevated.