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State v. Rivera-Ortiz

Court of Appeals of Oregon

October 18, 2017

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOEL RIVERA-ORTIZ, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted January 27, 2016.

         Hood River County Circuit Court 120213CT; John A. Olson, Judge.

          Anne Fujita Munsey, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Peenesh H. Shah, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Paul L. Smith, Deputy Solicitor General.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for reckless driving, ORS 811.140, arising from a traffic collision. He assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motions in limine to exclude a police officer's opinion testimony explaining how the accident occurred and the general rate of speed at which defendant was traveling on impact. Defendant argues that the testimony should have been excluded because the officer was not a qualified accident reconstruction expert and because the testimony constituted scientific evidence for which the state failed to lay the proper foundation. He also assigns error the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal.

         Held:

         The trial court did not err in admitting the officer's testimony because his testimony did not present scientific evidence to the jury, he was qualified to present his testimony as limited by the trial court, and the testimony was helpful to the jury. Additionally, the court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal.

         Affirmed.

         [288 Or.App. 285]EGAN, J.

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for reckless driving, ORS 811.140, [1] arising from a traffic collision. In his first two assignments, defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motions in limine to exclude a police officer's opinion testimony explaining how the accident occurred and the general rate of speed at which defendant was traveling on impact. Defendant argues that both portions of testimony should have been excluded because the police officer was not a qualified accident reconstruction expert and because the testimony constituted scientific evidence for which the state failed to lay the proper foundation. He also assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal. We affirm.

         We review for legal error whether the trial court properly applied OEC 702 to determine that an expert was qualified to give testimony about a particular topic. State v. Rogers, 330 Or. 282, 315, 4 P.3d 1261 (2000). We also review for legal error whether evidence is "scientific, " and, if so, whether it is admissible. State v. Sampson, 167 Or.App. 489, 495, 6 P.3d 543, rev den, 331 Or. 361 (2000). Finally, we review the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal for legal error, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the state to determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the elements of the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Luers, 211 Or.App. 34, 53, 153 P.3d 688, adh'd to as modified on recons, 213 Or.App. 389, 160 P.3d 1013 (2007). "Because the jury found defendant guilty, we state the facts in the light most favorable to the state." State v. Henley, 281 Or.App. 825, 826, 386 P.3d 126 (2016), rev allowed, 360 Or. 752 (2017).

         It was getting dark as defendant was driving a 1989 Honda Civic, a two-door hatchback, south on Eastside Road in Hood River. The posted speed limit on that section of Eastside Road was 45 miles per hour. R was driving a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck east on Paasch [288 Or.App. 286] Road with her 12-year-old daughter and her daughter's friend. R stopped at the stop sign of the intersection of Paasch Road and Eastside Road, intending to turn right into the southbound lane of Eastside Road. When R looked to her left to check for traffic, she saw defendant's car, with its headlights on, traveling toward her in the southbound lane. R believed the Honda Civic was a sufficient distance away for her to safely turn right in front of it onto Eastside Road. As she pulled out to turn right, defendant's car hit the front of the driver's side of the truck. The point of impact was a few feet inside of the fog line of the southbound lane. The impact spun the S-10 pickup approximately 270 degrees, and the truck ended up on the west shoulder of Eastside Road, 35 feet southwest of the point of impact. The front of the S-10 pickup was destroyed, leaving the driver's-side front wheel pushed under the truck's carriage. Defendant's ...


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