This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Seneca Warrior Steeprock,
Filed June 7, 2005
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 03076463
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Ann McCaughan, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Kalitowski, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Seneca Steeprock challenges his conviction of second-degree assault claiming that evidence of a prior conviction was improperly admitted to the jury because it was more prejudicial than probative. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
district court’s ruling on the impeachment of a witness by prior conviction is
reviewed under a clear abuse of discretion standard. State v. Ihnot, 575 N.W.2d 581, 584 (
Because appellant’s felony assault
conviction did not involve dishonesty or false statement, the probative value
of admitting the conviction must be weighed against its prejudicial
effect. “[District] courts have great
discretion in determining what prior convictions are admissible under the
balancing test of Rule 609(a)(1).” State
v. Gassler, 505 N.W.2d 62, 67 (
(1) the impeachment value of the prior crime, (2) the date of the conviction and the defendant’s subsequent history, (3) the similarity of the past crime with the charged crime (the greater the similarity, the greater the reason for not permitting use of the prior crime to impeach), (4) the importance of defendant’s testimony, and (5) the centrality of the credibility issue.
575 N.W.2d at 586 (quoting State v. Jones, 271 N.W.2d 534, 538 (
If a defendant’s
credibility is central to the determination of the case, “a greater case can be
made for admitting the impeachment evidence, because the need for the evidence
Here, the district court did not make an
analysis of all of the Jones factors explicitly on the record but made a
generalized statement that the court would admit the conviction to allow the
jury to see the defendant’s “whole person.”
Failure to analyze the Jones factors on the record is not
reversible error where the application of the factors would have still resulted
in allowing the evidence into the record.
State v. Vanhouse, 634 N.W.2d 715, 719 (Minn. App. 2001), review
In light of the
broad discretion afforded the district court, we conclude that appellant’s
conviction could have been admitted applying the Jones factors. First,
because appellant claimed innocence and that the witnesses had misidentified
him as one of his brothers who may have participated in the fight, the first
factor is met in that the impeachment value of appellant’s prior conviction was
greater than its prejudicial effect.
Finally, even if the district court erred in admitting the evidence, we conclude that any error is harmless. The record indicates that appellant’s counsel brought up the conviction preemptively. And the prosecution never mentioned the prior conviction during cross-examination and only briefly mentioned the prior conviction during closing arguments as a factor the jury could consider to determine if appellant was believable. In addition, the district court properly issued a limiting instruction after appellant’s testimony and during the jury instructions. Finally, as indicated by the verdict, the jury chose to believe the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies. We conclude that any error in admitting evidence of appellant’s prior conviction was harmless in light of both the substantial evidence against him and the manner in which the trial was conducted.