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Court of Appeals — Eye Witness: People v. Oddone

New York State Court of Appeals

Eye Witness

Cross-Examination — Refresh Recollection

People v. Oddone
No. 236
Judge Smith

Background: The defendant was convicted of manslaughter for causing the death of a man by holding him in a headlock. The defendant appealed from the court’s refusal to permit him to refresh is witness’ recollection with a statement the witness had previously given.

Ruling: The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. The court held that technical limitations on the impeachment of a witness must sometimes give way, in a criminal case, to a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Given that the decisive issue in the trial was the duration of the headlock, the account of the eye witness was relevant.

Marc Wolinsky for the appellant; Anne E. Oh for the respondent