Ikner v. State

CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Citation600 So.2d 435
PartiesWoodrow IKNER v. STATE. CR 90-1723.
Decision Date28 February 1992

Page 435

600 So.2d 435
Woodrow IKNER
CR 90-1723.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Alabama.
Feb. 28, 1992.
Rehearing Denied April 17, 1992.
Certiorari Denied June 26, 1992
Alabama Supreme Court 1911196.

Page 436

Barry Hess, Mobile, for appellant.

James H. Evans, Atty. Gen., and Yvonne A. Henderson, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

BOWEN, Judge.

Woodrow Ikner, the appellant, was convicted of perjury in the first degree. His sentence of five years' imprisonment was "split," with one year to be served in the county jail and four years on supervised probation. Although the appellant raises four issues on this appeal from that conviction, we need address only one.

This Court agrees with the argument of the appellant that his motion for judgment of acquittal should have been granted because the prosecution failed to prove that the false statement was material to the proceeding in which it was made.

The crime of perjury in the first degree is defined in Ala.Code 1975, § 13A-10-101:

"(a) A person commits the crime of perjury in the first degree when in any official proceeding he swears falsely and his false statement is material to the proceeding in which it is made."

Section 13A-10-101 "limit[s] perjury to materially false statements, which is in keeping with Alabama law." Commentary to Ala.Code 1975, §§ 13A-10-101 through 13A-10-103 at 402, and cases cited therein. "To constitute perjury, the matter falsely sworn to must be material to the issue in controversy. McDaniel v. State, 13 Ala.App. 318, 69 So. 351[, cert. denied, 193 Ala. 678, 69 So. 1018 (1915) ]. And the material matter sworn to must be false or it is not the subject of legal perjury. Winchester v. State, 20 Ala.App. 431, 102 So. 595 [ (1925) ]." Murry v. State, 367 So.2d 985, 989 (Ala.Cr.App.1978), cert. denied, 367 So.2d 989 (Ala.1979).

"A statement is 'material,' regardless of the admissibility of the statement under the rules of evidence, if it could have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding. It is no defense that the declarant mistakenly believed the falsification to be immaterial. Whether a falsification is material in a given factual situation is a question of law."

Ala.Code 1975, § 13A-10-100(2). "Regardless of the scope of the proceeding in which testimony is given, ... the test of materiality is essentially whether a truthful answer would have aided the inquiry." United States v. Cunningham, 723 F.2d 217, 226 (2d Cir.1983), cert. denied, 466 U.S. 951, 104 S.Ct. 2154, 80 L.Ed.2d 540 (1984).

Page 437

The prosecution is not required to prove that the false statements actually influenced the outcome of the prior proceeding; "the determinative inquiry for materiality is 'whether the false testimony was capable of influencing the tribunal on the issue before it.' United States v. Cosby, 601 F.2d 754, 756, n. 2 (5th Cir.1979) (emphasis supplied)." United States v. Carter, 721 F.2d 1514, 1535 (11th Cir.) cert. denied, 469 U.S. 819, 105 S.Ct. 89, 83 L.Ed.2d 36 (1984). "Mere potential interference with a line of inquiry is sufficient to establish materiality." United States v. McComb, 744 F.2d 555, 563 (7th Cir.1984). "A false statement is not material unless it is ' "capable of influencing the tribunal on the issue before it." ' " United States v. Bell, 623 F.2d 1132, 1134-35 (5th Cir.1980).

"In order to sustain a prosecution for perjury, under the laws of this state, it must be shown, by the usual measure of proof, that is to say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the matter falsely sworn to is material to the issue or question in controversy, and no conviction can be based upon irrelevant or immaterial testimony, however false such testimony may be."

Pressley v. State, 18 Ala.App. 40, 41, 88 So. 291 (1921).

"Materiality looks to the relationship between the propositions for which the evidence is offered and the issues in the case. McCormick on Evidence, p. 315. Therefore it is necessary that the State prove the falsity of the statement in the prior proceeding and prove what the issue or point in question in the former proceeding was, so [that] the trial court can ascertain the materiality of the alleged false statement to the issue or point in question."

State v. Roberson, 543 S.W.2d 817, 821 (Mo.App.1976).

The basis of the indictment is the State's allegation that the appellant, as a police officer for the City of Monroeville, swore falsely when he denied signing the name of another police officer (Robert Champion) to a number of fingerprint cards allegedly collected in the investigation of burglaries that occurred at the Touch of Class Hair Studios on May 13, 1989, and at the Econ Eleven on June 15, 1989, in Monroeville, Alabama. There was only "one match" in each case, and each match belonged to William Sellers. In the Touch of Class burglary, the only evidence connecting Sellers to the burglary was the fingerprint and the testimony of an accomplice. R. 105. However, in the appellant's trial for perjury, there was no evidence that Sellers was ever convicted of either one of those burglaries. Although we may assume that Sellers had been convicted from the fact that there were Rule 20, A.R.Crim.P.Temp. (now Rule 32, A.R.Crim.P.), proceedings concerning him, there was no evidence that the Rule 20 proceedings involved these same burglaries. There was no evidence that the issue at the Rule 20 hearing was whether the fingerprints linking Sellers to the burglaries were fabricated. There was no proof that the fingerprints were in fact fabricated, although there was testimony that the prints were irregular. If the fingerprints were authenticated by any means at the Rule 20 proceedings, the appellant's testimony at that hearing that he did not sign another's name to the latent lift cards may have been immaterial. In fact, officer Robert Champion testified at the perjury trial that the appellant would have had the authority to put his name on a card that he had lifted, R. 244, although Champion did not recall making such a request of the appellant. R. 249.

At the perjury trial, the prosecution introduced into evidence the testimony of the appellant from the hearing on the Rule 20 petition for post-conviction relief. There was no evidence as to what that hearing concerned or what issues were involved in the Rule 20 petition. Although the prosecutor argued that the Rule 20 hearing was "the post-conviction remedy to throw out the man's case on the grounds that the fingerprints were forged," there was no...

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3 cases
  • McDonald v. City of Birmingham, CR-92-0993
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 25, 1994
    ...554 F.2d [1371], at 1374 [ (5th Cir.1977) ]. See also Prather v. City of Hoover, 585 So.2d 257 (Ala.Cr.App.1981)." Ikner v. State, 600 So.2d 435, 439 (Ala.Cr.App.1992). REVERSED AND JUDGMENT All Judges concur, except MONTIEL, J., who dissents with opinion. MONTIEL, Judge, dissenting. I woul......
  • Fort v. State, CR-93-1950
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 5, 1995
    ...the issue before it.' United States v. Cosby, 601 F.2d 754, 756, n. 2 (5th Cir.1979) (emphasis supplied)"), quoted in Ikner v. State, 600 So.2d 435, 437 (Ala.Cr.App.1992). Under the standard required by the foregoing authorities, and in light of the evidence offered at trial, we hold that F......
  • State v. Zimlich
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 5, 2000
    ...`To constitute perjury (in the first degree), the matter falsely sworn to must be material to the issue in controversy.' Ikner v. State, 600 So.2d 435 (Ala.Cr.App.1992). No such allegation is made, nor does the indictment recite facts and use language which, taken as a whole, indicate mater......

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