Evidence, Police Statements during Interrogation Commenting on Witness Credibility

Criminal Law Update

People v Musser, 494 Mich 337; 835 NW2d 319 (2013)(july’13). At issue in this case were police “statements” supporting the credibility of witnesses against Defendant made during interrogation of Defendant and admitted at trial. The supreme court unanimously, in an opinion by Justice Cavanagh, ruled that there was no need “at this juncture” for a bright-line rule of inadmissibility of such statements. However, applying existing evidence rules, such statements must be relevant for the intended purpose of providing “context” for a defendant’s statements during interrogation. Even if the statements survive that test they should be excluded under MRE 403 if they are more prejudicial than probative. In this case it was error under existing evidence rules to admit the statements of police during interrogation of Defendant as most of the statements were irrelevant to the goal of providing context for Defendant’s statements.