STATE v. RICHARD ANNULLI, SC 18856
Judicial District of Waterbury
Criminal; Rights to Confrontation and to Present a Defense; Whether Appellate Court Properly Upheld Trial Court's Ruling Precluding Defendant from Cross-Examining Victim on the Issue of Whether she had Previously Lied to Police. In connection with a minor victim's complaint, the defendant was charged with various crimes, including sexual assault in the fourth degree. At trial, defense counsel attempted to question the victim about an unrelated incident in which she allegedly lied to the police about being threatened by a classmate and altered e-mail evidence. The state objected to this line of questioning, and the court excused the jury and heard arguments from both parties. It then found that the evidence failed to establish that the victim had lied to the police, and, therefore, it did not allow defense counsel to make such inquiry. It stated that defense counsel could pursue other lines of questioning concerning the victim's credibility. When resuming its cross-examination of the victim, defense counsel asked her if she was involved in an incident with a classmate involving the exchange of e-mail messages. The state objected on the ground that the question was beyond the scope of direct examination, and after defense counsel made an offer of proof, the court ruled that any line of questioning regarding the e-mail incident was collateral and would not be allowed. Thereafter, the court convicted the defendant of sexual assault in the fourth degree, attempt to commit sexual assault in the fourth degree and risk of injury to a minor. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court, in precluding him from questioning the victim about the e-mail incident, improperly excluded impeachment evidence in violation of the Connecticut Code of Evidence and his rights to confrontation and to present a defense. The Appellate Court (130 Conn. App. 571) disagreed. It concluded that its review of the proffered evidence revealed that the victim provided inconsistent testimony regarding whether she had altered e-mail evidence and lied to the police and that because the proffered evidence was unclear, the trial court reasonably could have concluded that the evidence would have injected collateral issues into the trial. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will review the Appellate Court's ruling.