This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).







State of Minnesota,





Curtis Lamon Caradine,




Filed May 29, 2007


Lansing, Judge



Olmsted County District Court

File No. K4-04-3504



John Stuart, State Public Defender, Jessica Godes, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 425, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and


Mark A. Ostrem, Olmsted County Attorney, Eric M. Woodford, Assistant County Attorney, 151 Southeast Fourth Street, Rochester, MN 55904 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            A jury found Curtis Caradine guilty of second-degree controlled substance crime.  On appeal, Caradine argues first that it was plain error to allow five police officers to testify that they were familiar with Caradine before the controlled-purchase transaction.  Second, Caradine argues that it was plain error to admit into evidence his unredacted statement to a police interviewer, which referred to Caradine’s prior criminal activity.  Because the testimony did not constitute plain error and the unredacted statement was admissible under the doctrine of curative admissibility, we affirm.


            With the help of a confidential informant, Rochester police officers organized a controlled purchase of crack cocaine from Curtis Caradine.  The informant called Caradine and set up a meeting in a convenience store parking lot.  Caradine entered the informant’s vehicle and the informant gave him $100.  The informant testified that Caradine placed a bag of crack cocaine in her vehicle’s cup holder.  Before the controlled purchase, police officers searched the informant and her vehicle and confirmed that she was not carrying any drugs.

            When Caradine stepped out of the vehicle, the police officers approached him.  Caradine ran away and was eventually stopped by a police dog.  The officers recovered the $100 and a bag of crack cocaine.  Because the sale occurred in a school zone, Caradine was charged with second-degree controlled substance crime under Minn. Stat. § 152.022, subd. 1(6)(i). 

            At Caradine’s trial, five police officers who had been present at the controlled purchase testified about their observations.  Each officer testified either that he was familiar with Caradine before the controlled purchase or that he recognized Caradine at the time of the controlled purchase.  Caradine did not object to this testimony.

            A police officer interviewed Caradine after the controlled purchase.  He first advised Caradine of his Miranda rights, and then asked Caradine about selling crack cocaine to the informant.  According to the officer, Caradine “indicated he didn’t sell it to her, he gave it to her.”

            When Caradine testified in his own defense, he denied admitting that he gave the informant crack cocaine.  Caradine claimed that he made his statements to the officer because he “was basically trying to, you know, help myself out because I had some[thing] else, you know, pending, and I was trying help myself because I didn’t want another case.”

            In rebuttal, the state played a recording of the officer’s interview with Caradine.  About eight minutes of the nineteen-minute recording consists of Caradine and the officer discussing Caradine’s pending gun charge and the possibility of a plea bargain.  On the recording, the officer tells Caradine that it might be difficult to reach a plea bargain because “you’ve got some history.”  Caradine tells the officer, “I’m on bail, so I know I won’t get . . . bail.”  The officer later makes a reference to Caradine’s “gun charge.”  The officer also tells Caradine, “When we heard you were selling dope again, we had the opportunity to get you, that’s why we did it.”  Caradine did not object to the introduction of the recording.  

            The jury found Caradine guilty and he now appeals his conviction.


            The failure to object to the admission of evidence generally constitutes a waiver of the issue on appeal.  State v. Quick, 659 N.W.2d 701, 717 (Minn. 2003).  In the absence of an objection, we review only error that is plain and affects the defendant’s substantial rights.  State v. Martinez, 725 N.W.2d 733, 738 (Minn. 2007).  An error is plain if it is clear or obvious under current law.  State v. Washington, 725 N.W.2d 125, 133 (Minn. App. 2006), review denied (Minn. Mar. 20, 2007).  An error affects the defendant’s substantial rights only if the error was prejudicial and affected the outcome of the case.  State v. Vick, 632 N.W.2d 676, 685 (Minn. 2001).  When a defendant has strategic reasons for failing to object, courts are less likely to conclude that the error affects substantial rights.  State v. Vance, 714 N.W.2d 428, 443 (Minn. 2006).  If the three prongs of the plain-error standard are met, we will reverse if necessary to “ensure fairness and the integrity of the judicial proceedings.”  State v. Griller, 583 N.W.2d 736, 740 (Minn. 1998).

            Evidence of the defendant’s other crimes or misconduct is admissible only for limited purposes.  State v. Spreigl, 272 Minn. 488, 490, 139 N.W.2d 167, 169 (1965).  The limited purposes generally include showing “motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.”  Minn. R. Evid. 404(b).  To admit Spreigl evidence at trial, the state must satisfy a number of conditions, including providing notice of its intent to introduce the evidence.  State v. Ness, 707 N.W.2d 676, 685-86 (Minn. 2006).


            On this record we conclude that the police officers’ testimony that they were familiar with Caradine was not directed toward proving that Caradine had committed other crimes and did not reveal that he had been involved in previous crimes or misconduct.  To convict Caradine, the state needed to prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  State v. Cross, 577 N.W.2d 721, 726 (Minn. 1998).  Therefore, the state was required to prove that Caradine was the person who committed the acts.  The officers’ familiarity with Caradine helped to establish this fact.

            In State v. Strommen, the supreme court held that an officer’s testimony that he knew the defendant from “prior contacts and incidents” was prejudicial and constituted character evidence.  648 N.W.2d 681, 687-88 (Minn. 2002).  The Strommen decision is factually distinguishable.  First, before the officer’s testimony in Strommen, the state had improperly introduced testimony that the defendant “said that he killed somebody” and had been charged for that crime. 684.  The jury in Strommen was therefore much more likely to infer that the officer knew the defendant because of other crimes or misconduct.  Second, the officers in this case did not testify about why they were familiar with Caradine and did not refer to “prior contacts and incidents.”  Instead, the officers simply testified that they recognized Caradine or were familiar with him.  One of the officers testified that he had “seen pictures of him.”  The officers’ familiarity could have been the result of preparing for the controlled purchase.  Therefore, the officers’ testimony did not constitute evidence of other crimes or misconduct.

            But Caradine’s argument does have a deeper point.  In this case, the officers testified about controlled purchases and about why Caradine was targeted.  Presumably, the state has some reason for setting up a controlled purchase.  Thus testimony about the controlled purchase by its nature incorporates a degree of prejudice.  But the Strommen decision stands for a narrower legal proposition that does not apply to the facts of this case.  Under existing law the testimony did not constitute clear or obvious error.


            We also reject Caradine’s claim of plain error in the admissibility of Caradine’s unredacted statement to the police.  We agree that the requirements for Spreigl evidence were not satisfied.  But the unredacted statement, which contained references to Caradine’s prior criminal activity, was nonetheless admissible under the doctrine of curative admissibility. 

When one party introduces inadmissible evidence, the doctrine of curative admissibility allows the other party to introduce otherwise inadmissible evidence on the same point.  Busch v. Busch Constr., Inc., 262 N.W.2d 377, 386 (Minn. 1977).  In circumstances “[w]here one party introduces inadmissible evidence, he cannot complain if the court permits his opponent in rebuttal to introduce similarly inadmissible evidence.”  State v. De Zeler, 230 Minn. 39, 45, 41 N.W.2d 313, 318 (1950).  Caradine introduced his pending charges in an attempt to explain his admissions to the police.  The state could therefore similarly introduce evidence showing how Caradine’s pending
charges related to his admissions.  Thus, the state could properly introduce the unredacted recording of Caradine’s statements to the police.