State v. Davis

Decision Date14 April 1976
Docket NumberNo. 58476,58476
Citation240 N.W.2d 662
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Ellis Franklin DAVIS, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Paul B. Rosene, Sioux City, for appellant.

Richard C. Turney, Atty. Gen., Dorothy L. Kelley, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Zigmund Chwirka, County Atty., for appellee.



The issue in this appeal is whether a prosecution witness' cross-examination testimony, which allegedly violated a ruling on a pre-trial limine motion, requires reversal in absence of any trial objection or motion.

Defendant was tried on a charge of robbery with aggravation, arising out of a Sioux City store holdup. Following his conviction of the included offense of robbery without aggravation he was sentenced to serve not to exceed ten years in the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison.

As the result of a pre-trial motion the State was admonished not to refer to any evidence of defendant's prior convictions. Trial court directed counsel for both State and defense to instruct their witnesses so there would be no inadvertent statements made in the jury's presence.

Officer Frisbie was the prosecution's first witness. He described defendant's arrest and initial interrogation, concluding, 'And at that time he stated he was not going to answer any more questions or cop out to anything without the presence of an attorney * * *.'

The following cross-examination by defendant's counsel concerning defendant's 'cop-out' statement then ensued:

'Q. Was there some questioning resulted that prompted him to make the statement? A. Well, I don't know what prompted him. Maybe there's a possibility one of the statements that was made prior, when I said he stated he would not cop out; if something like that prompted him, I guess you could say that would be true.

Q. I'm sorry. I didn't understand what you said. A. Well, I have stated all the things that had been stated, with the exception of there was a few other things he stated I don't feel I could go into without fear of--

Q. All right. If you don't want to testify to them, I won't force you to. A. It's not that. I'll testify to it, if it's okay by the Judge; but it was in reference to prior things he had been involved in, and I don't think it has anything to do with this case. But in direct relation to you question, there was nothing I could have said that would have prompted this, because, as I stated, Officer White was doing the interrogation, Sir.'

Defendant never objected, moved for an appropriate jury admonition or instruction, made motion for mistrial, or used the above incident as grounds for motion for directed verdict.

I. No one disputes the principle undergirding defendant's motion in limine: it is well established that, with certain exceptions not relevant here, evidence of other offenses and prior trouble with the law is inadmissible in a criminal prosecution. Michelson v. United States, 335 U.S. 469, 475--476, 69 S.Ct. 213, 218, 93 L.Ed. 168, 173--174 (1948); United States v. Hines, 470 F.2d 225, 226--227 (3 Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 410 U.S. 968, 93 S.Ct. 1452, 35 L.Ed.2d 703 (1973); State v. Johnson, 222 N.W.2d 483, 488 (Iowa 1974); State v. Martin, 217 N.W.2d 536 (Iowa 1974).

We need not reach the issues whether Frisbie's reference to 'prior things he (defendant) had been involved in' violated the above principle or the court's prior ruling, or whether defendant's damage from the statement, if any, was self-inflicted and therefore unavailable as ground for reversal.

II. The controlling question here is whether defendant, having obtained a favorable ruling on his motion in limine, could preserve 'error' without affording trial court an opportunity to rule further following Frisbie's cross-examination response. Starting with the premise this court in nonequity matters constitutes a court for correction of errors at law, Constitution of Iowa, Art. 5, § 4, we find it significant the only ruling trial court made was in defendant's favor.

In State v. Miller, 229 N.W.2d 762, 768 (Iowa 1975) we said, '(W)here a motion in limine is resolved in such a way it is beyond question whether or not the challenged evidence will be admitted during trial, there is no reason to voice objection at such time during trial.' However, in Miller, the limine motion was overruled and in so ruling trial court plainly stated what testimony the State would be permitted to introduce on defendant's prior felony convictions.

Also to be distinguished is the situation in which the motion in limine is granted on hearing which is evidentiary in nature, the court is completely apprised of the factual situation, and nothing occurs at trial to change the posture of the parties. See Gustafson v. Iowa Power & Light Company, 183 N.W.2d 212, 214 (Iowa 1971). While we have said in such a situation no 'subsequent record' is required, State v. Garrett, 183 N.W.2d 652, 654 (Iowa 1971), it should be observed in these exceptional...

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9 cases
  • Rosales-Martinez v. Ludwick
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • March 29, 2017
    ...objection is made when the evidence is offered at trial. State v. Edgerly, 571 N.W.2d 25, 29 (Iowa App. 1997) (citing State v. Davis, 240 N.W.2d 662, 663 (Iowa 1976))."). Accordingly, the unknown twists this issue took prior to the second trial are irrelevant because the court allowed defen......
  • State v. Tangie
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • September 7, 2000
    ...objection is made when the evidence is offered at trial. State v. Edgerly, 571 N.W.2d 25, 29 (Iowa App.1997) (citing State v. Davis, 240 N.W.2d 662, 663 (Iowa 1976)). However, where a motion in limine is resolved in such a way it is beyond question whether or not the challenged evidence wil......
  • State v. Edgerly, 96-1380
    • United States
    • Iowa Court of Appeals
    • September 24, 1997
    ...unless a timely objection is made when the evidence which was the subject of the motion in limine is offered at trial. State v. Davis, 240 N.W.2d 662, 663 (Iowa 1976). If, however, the ruling on the motion in limine reaches the ultimate issue of admissibility, it is a final ruling and the o......
  • State v. Brown
    • United States
    • Iowa Court of Appeals
    • January 10, 2001
    ...1997). Because Brown failed to make this objection in a timely fashion, this issue is not preserved for our review. See State v. Davis, 240 N.W.2d 662, 663 (Iowa 1976) (A defendant who has received a favorable ruling on a motion in limine must provide the trial court an opportunity to rule ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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