Appellate Procedure – Harmless Error Test – Confrontation

State v. Harry L. Seymer, 2005 WI App 93

For Seymer: Andrea T. Cornwall, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate

Issue/Holding: Improper termination of defendant’s cross-examination of the sexual assault complainant was not harmless error, where abbreviated though it was, cross had already “raise(d) serious questions concerning A.S.’s credibility and the veracity of her account …. Thus, it is within the realm of reasonable possibility that the completed cross-examination would have produced evidence that seriously undermined the credibility and recollections of the victim, resulting in a not guilty finding.” ¶17.

Given that defendant represented himself and was under a no-contact order and therefore had no prior opportunity to question the complainant, the court deems it “an impossibility” that he should have been required to “state what additional relevant information may have been elicited during cross-examination,” ¶14. It therefore ought not be assumed that the court would not require under different circumstances an offer of proof to preserve a confrontation objection.