This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Marvin Lee Jones,
Filed October 1, 2002
Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
Washington County District Court
File No. K8005575
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Doug Johnson, Washington County Attorney, Eric C. Thole, Assistant County Attorney, 14949 62nd Street North, Post Office Box 6, Stillwater, MN 55082 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Ann B. McCaughan, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge
Marvin Lee Jones appeals his conviction for fourth-degree assault claiming the district court erred in allowing admission of his prior felony convictions to impeach his testimony. We affirm.
Jones was convicted of second-degree assault and second-degree murder, and as a result, was incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights. On June 16, 2000, Officers Keiser and Lund were conducting a cell check at the prison. Jones was ordered out of his cell, and while exiting he struck Lund. The incident was caught on prison security videotape. Jones was charged in Washington County District Court with fourth-degree assault. Just prior to trial, the attorneys discussed Jones's prior felony convictions. Counsel for the defense made the following statement:
Also, Mr. Jones has a number of convictions on his record. [Prosecutor] tells me at this point his intent during trial is not to introduce any of those prior convictions unless my client testifies. In that case, he would be introducing the two offenses which resultedin Mr. Jones's original incarceration, those being a second-degree murder and [second] degree assault, but the balance of the criminal record won't go before the jury.
(Emphasis added). The defense did not move the court for an exclusion of the evidence for impeachment purposes should Jones take the stand.
The district court ruled that the prosecution could not refer to Jones's prior convictions unless he testified, and then only to impeach his credibility. Jones was charged with fourth-degree assault. He testified at his jury trial and was impeached with his prior felony convictions. The defense did not object. The district court gave the jury a limiting instruction regarding the impeachment evidence. The jury found Jones guilty. Jones appeals.
The appellate courts will not reverse a district court's admission of evidence of the defendant's prior crimes unless an abuse of discretion is clearly shown. State v. Scruggs, 421 N.W.2d 707, 715 (Minn. 1988). Likewise, determining whether a particular item of evidence's probative value exceeds the danger of prejudice is left to the district court's discretion and is overturned only when there has been a clear abuse of that discretion. State v. Graham, 371 N.W.2d 204, 208-09 (Minn. 1985).
When using evidence of prior convictions for purposes of impeachment only, Minnesota Rule of Evidence 609 directly controls.
(a) General rule. For the purposes of attacking the credibility of a witness, evidence that the witness committed a crime shall be admitted only if the crime (1) was punishable by * * * imprisonment in excess of one year * * * and the court determines that the probative value of admitting this evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect * * * .
(b) Time limit. Evidence of a conviction under this rule is not admissible if a period of more than ten years has passed since the date of conviction * * *.
In the present case, each of Jones's offenses was punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year, and ten years had not passed since the date of the convictions. Thus, the only relevant inquiry is whether the district court abused its discretion in determining that the probative value of the evidence exceeded its prejudicial effect.
Jones argues that the probative value of these convictions is rather limited, and the potential for misuse by the jury is appreciable. Defense counsel never raised any objection to the admission of the prior convictions. In fact, defense counsel specified that the parties had agreed that the evidence could be used if Jones took the stand and then only for impeachment purposes. Additionally, the potential for prejudice was significantly reduced given that the jury was aware that the offense charged here occurred while he was incarcerated in a maximum-security prison. Also, the district court gave a limiting instruction to the jury. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing Jones's felony convictions as impeachment evidence on cross-examination.