State v. Alexis, No. 46271

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtHICKS; UTTER
Citation621 P.2d 1269,95 Wn.2d 15
Docket NumberNo. 46271
Decision Date31 December 1980
PartiesSTATE of Washington, Respondent, v. Andrew J. ALEXIS, Petitioner.

Page 15

95 Wn.2d 15
621 P.2d 1269
STATE of Washington, Respondent,
v.
Andrew J. ALEXIS, Petitioner.
No. 46271.
Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.
Dec. 31, 1980.
As Changed Feb. 9, 1981.

Timothy K. Ford, Seattle, for petitioner.

Grant Meiner, Pros. Atty., Kenneth L. Cowsert, Deputy Pros. Atty., Port Angeles, for respondent.

[621 P.2d 1270] HICKS, Justice.

Washington Rule of Evidence (ER) 609 became effective April 2, 1979, 91 Wash.2d 1117, 1149 (1978), and reads in part:

(a) General Rule. For the purpose of attacking the credibility of a witness, evidence that he has been convicted

Page 16

of a crime shall be admitted if elicited from him or established by public record during cross-examination but only if the crime (1) was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of 1 year under the law under which he was convicted, and the court determines that the probative value of admitting this evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect to the defendant, or (2) involved dishonesty or false statement, regardless of the punishment.

Here, the issue is whether under the above rule defendant's 1975 second degree rape conviction is admissible in evidence for the purpose of attacking his credibility as a witness in the event he testifies in his retrial for first degree rape. We hold the admissibility to be within the trial court's sound discretion as circumscribed by ER 609.

The facts are not in dispute. Defendant, Andrew J. Alexis, was convicted of second degree rape on September 29, 1975. In May of 1977, he, together with another, was convicted of first degree rape. The Court of Appeals, Division Two, reversed that conviction. The court found that the representation of both defendants by one attorney deprived Alexis of the effective assistance of counsel. Details are set forth with greater particularity in State v. Alexis, 21 Wash.App. 161, 584 P.2d 963 (1978).

In its opinion, the appellate court noted that Alexis did not testify during the 1977 trial. His failure to testify apparently was motivated by fear of the prejudice to him which would follow if his 1975 rape conviction was admitted for impeachment purposes. Since it disposed of the case on the effective counsel issue, the Court of Appeals did not discuss the admissibility of Alexis' 1975 rape conviction.

When the Judicial Council submitted its proposed ER 609 to this court for approval, it accompanied the rule with this comment:

This rule is substantially the same as Federal Rule 609 and is more restrictive than previous Washington law.

Two Washington statutes provide that the credibility of a witness may be attacked by evidence that the witness had been previously convicted of a crime. RCW

Page 17

5.60.040; 10.52.030 ... Rule 609 offers a balance between the right of the accused to testify freely in his own behalf and the desirability of allowing the State to attack the credibility of the accused who chooses to testify. The two statutes ... are superseded.

Prior to ER 609, the trial courts of this state were required to admit evidence of a witness' prior conviction. Now, however, the court has limited discretion. Under ER 609(a)(2), only evidence of convictions for crimes involving dishonesty or false statements must be admitted when offered. Convictions of other crimes may be admitted under ER 609(a)(1) in the trial court's discretion, but only after balancing the probative value of the prior conviction as it relates to the credibility of the witness against the potential prejudice to the defendant.

Normally, evidence of conviction of "other crimes" should be admitted only if the trial court is satisfied the need to submit the issue of the credibility of a particular witness to the jury outweighs the possible prejudice to defendant. Such a determination, of course, becomes more difficult when the witness is a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
118 practice notes
  • State v. Brown, No. 53997-9
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 14, 1988
    ...hearing the defendant's account of events with the importance that it know of his prior convictions. State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980). A defendant faced with impeachment evidence of convictions may elect not to testify; this is one basis upon which ER 609 has been cr......
  • State v. Brown, No. 53997-9
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 31, 1989
    ...hearing the defendant's account of events with the importance that it know of his prior convictions. State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980). A defendant faced with impeachment evidence of convictions may elect not to testify; this is one basis upon which ER 609 has been cr......
  • State v. Rivers, No. 63412-2
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 24, 1996
    ...consider, on the record, the factors which favored admission or exclusion of the prior conviction. In State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980) this court held that a trial court exercising its discretion under ER 609(a)(1) must not only weigh the prejudicial effect of the pr......
  • State v. Nunez, No. 28259–7–III.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • February 15, 2011
    ...credibility. ¶ 56 In any event, credibility of the witnesses is precisely what a jury must consider. State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980). The trial court instructed the jurors that they “are the sole judges of the credibility of each witness.” CP at 14. We presume that ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
118 cases
  • State v. Brown, No. 53997-9
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 14, 1988
    ...hearing the defendant's account of events with the importance that it know of his prior convictions. State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980). A defendant faced with impeachment evidence of convictions may elect not to testify; this is one basis upon which ER 609 has been cr......
  • State v. Brown, No. 53997-9
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 31, 1989
    ...hearing the defendant's account of events with the importance that it know of his prior convictions. State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980). A defendant faced with impeachment evidence of convictions may elect not to testify; this is one basis upon which ER 609 has been cr......
  • State v. Rivers, No. 63412-2
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 24, 1996
    ...consider, on the record, the factors which favored admission or exclusion of the prior conviction. In State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980) this court held that a trial court exercising its discretion under ER 609(a)(1) must not only weigh the prejudicial effect of the pr......
  • State v. Nunez, No. 28259–7–III.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • February 15, 2011
    ...credibility. ¶ 56 In any event, credibility of the witnesses is precisely what a jury must consider. State v. Alexis, 95 Wash.2d 15, 19, 621 P.2d 1269 (1980). The trial court instructed the jurors that they “are the sole judges of the credibility of each witness.” CP at 14. We presume that ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT