This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Trent William Lederhaus,
Filed November 19, 2002
Becker County District Court
File No. K3-01-769
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Joseph A. Evans, Becker County Attorney, 910 Lincoln Avenue, P.O. Box 476, Detroit Lakes, MN 56502 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Davi E. Axelson, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*
Appellant challenges his conviction of second-degree controlled substance crime, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding proposed defense evidence that a police informant who videotaped the alleged sale of methamphetamine was actually selling marijuana to appellant in the transaction captured on tape. Because appellant's trial attorney failed to make an offer of proof, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant Trent Lederhaus argues that the district court erred in excluding evidence showing that the informant sold marijuana on several occasions and, as a result of the district court’s exclusion of the evidence, he was denied his right to present a meaningful defense because he was unable to fully develop an alternative theory.
“[E]very criminal defendant has the right to be treated with fundamental fairness and to be ‘afforded a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.’” State v. Richards, 495 N.W.2d 187, 191 (Minn. 1992) (citing California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 485, 104 S. Ct. 2528, 2532 (1984)). Both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantee criminal defendants the right to present a meaningful defense. U.S. Const. amends. VI, XIV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 7; Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690, 106 S. Ct. 2142, 2146 (1986); State v. Greenleaf, 591 N.W.2d 488, 504 (Minn. 1999). That right, however, is not unlimited. State v. Bjork, 610 N.W.2d 632, 636 (Minn. 2000). “[T]he accused ‘must comply with established rules of procedure and evidence designed to assure both fairness and reliability in the ascertainment of guilt and innocence.’” Richards, 495 N.W.2d at 195 (quoting Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 302, 93 S. Ct. 1038, 1049 (1973)). Thus, even when a defendant alleges that his constitutional rights were violated, evidentiary questions are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. See State v. Gustafson, 379 N.W.2d 81, 84 (Minn. 1985).
Even if the evidentiary ruling is erroneous, this court will not reverse if we are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury would have reached the same verdict if the district court had admitted the evidence. State v. Post, 512 N.W.2d 99, 102 (Minn. 1994).
The district court, which based its ruling on Minn. R. Evid. 404 and 608, did not abuse its discretion by excluding extrinsic evidence of the informant’s character. Minn. R. Evid. 608(b) provides that
[s]pecific instances of the conduct of a witness, for the purpose of attacking or supporting the witness’ credibility, other than conviction of crime * * * may not be proved by extrinsic evidence.
The record shows that appellant sought admission of prior conduct to impeach the credibility of the state’s witness and prove that he was engaged in criminal activity and misconduct. Appellant specifically sought to introduce testimony from witnesses who would testify that they purchased marijuana from the informant on dates other than those in question to rebut the informant’s testimony that he had not sold drugs to anyone. This is impermissible under Rule 608(b) and the district court properly excluded the evidence.
Appellant claims in the alternative that the district court should have allowed the introduction of testimony from witnesses that the informant sold marijuana on occasions to other people under Rule 404. Minn. R. Evid. 404(b) states in relevant part:
Evidence of another crime, wrong, or act is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. In a criminal prosecution, such evidence shall not be admitted unless the other crime, wrong, or act and the participation in it by a relevant person are proven by clear and convincing evidence.
Because there is no indication that appellant’s attorney made an offer of proof concerning the relevancy of the testimony or which rule 404(b) exception applied to it, we conclude, based on this record, that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.