This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Mark Kevin Rahier,
Itasca County District Court
File No. K702251
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
John J. Muhar, Itasca County Attorney, Heidi M. Chandler, Assistant County Attorney, Itasca County Courthouse, 123 Northeast Fourth Street, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Kalitowski, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N
††††††††††† Appellant Mark Kevin Rahier challenges the district courtís exclusion of (1) evidence regarding the victimís use of illegal drugs the night of the assault; and (2) opinion evidence regarding the victimís character for dishonesty.† Because the evidentiary rulings were within the district courtís discretion, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
††††††††††† This court reviews a district courtís evidentiary rulings for abuse of discretion.† State v. Tovar, 605 N.W.2d 717, 722 (Minn. 2000).† Even if we determine that a particular ruling was an abuse of discretion, we will not reverse a conviction if the error is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.† State v. Quick, 659 N.W.2d 701, 716 (Minn. 2003).
††††††††††† Appellant argues that the district court erroneously excluded evidence that the victim was using methamphetamine the night of the assault.† Appellant contends the evidence was necessary to show both that the victimís recollection was impaired, and that the victim was belligerent and intoxicated the night of the assault, thus bolstering the defense contention that the victim injured herself and falsely blamed appellant.
Generally, a criminal defendant has the right to introduce evidence that a witness against him was intoxicated at the time of the alleged offense.† State v. Frank, 364 N.W.2d 398, 400 (Minn. 1985).† This evidence bears upon the witnessís ability to observe and recall the events truthfully.† Id.† But this right is not absolute and may be limited in the courtís discretion.† See State v. Bahri, 514 N.W.2d 580, 583 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. June 15, 1994) (blood alcohol concentrations of victims not admissible where police and victims themselves had already testified that victims were intoxicated).†
Here, the district court determined that appellant could adequately demonstrate the victimís state of mind and intoxication through other testimony, and that appellant failed to demonstrate how evidence that the victim was under the influence of illegal drugs, as well as alcohol, would have assisted the jury in understanding the case.† The evidence supported this determination:† (1) several defense witnesses and the victim testified that the victim had been drinking alcohol the night of the assault; (2) three defense witnesses testified that the victim was loud, obnoxious, aggressive, and hostile toward appellant and others; and (3) a witness testified that the victim had threatened to ďplay the battered woman thingĒ and injure herself in order to punish appellant for a personal dispute.† Thus, we conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence that the victim was using methamphetamine the night of the assault.
††††††††††† Appellant also argues that the district court abused its discretion by refusing to allow defense witnesses to testify as to their personal opinions of the victimís character for untruthfulness.† We disagree.† Minn. R. Evid. 608(a) provides that the credibility of a witness may be impeached by testimony in the form of ďopinion or reputationĒ of the personís character for untruthfulness.† The comment to the rule shows, however, that Minnesota courts generally allow reputation evidence, but not personal opinions.† Minn. R. Evid. 608(a) 1977 comm. cmt., see also State v. Kahner, 217 Minn. 574, 582, 15 N.W.2d 105, 109 (1944) (ďwitness may testify to the reputation of another witness for truth and veracity, but not as to his moral characterĒ).† Thus, we cannot say the district court abused its discretion by limiting the defense witnesses to testimony regarding the victimís reputation for dishonesty in the community.
††††††††††† Moreover, even if the opinion evidence was erroneously excluded, because the juryís verdict was surely unattributable to the error, we conclude that any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.† Two defense witnesses testified that in the community, the victim has a reputation for lying and having a ďhard time telling the truth.Ē† The jury also heard testimony that the victim specifically threatened to fabricate an assault to spite appellant.† Thus, even without the witnessesí opinion evidence, the jury was presented with considerable evidence questioning the victimís credibility.† And the fact that the jury chose to believe the stateís witnesses over the defenseís witnesses is a credibility determination that this court will not disturb on appeal.† State v. Hagen, 382 N.W.2d 556, 559 (Minn. App. 1986).