State v. Garcia, Appeal No. 2018AP2319-CR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtREILLY, P.J.
Citation2020 WI App 71,951 N.W.2d 631,394 Wis.2d 743
Parties STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Manuel GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date07 October 2020
Docket NumberAppeal No. 2018AP2319-CR

394 Wis.2d 743
951 N.W.2d 631
2020 WI App 71

STATE of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Manuel GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal No. 2018AP2319-CR

Court of Appeals of Wisconsin.

Submitted on Briefs: January 22, 2020
Opinion Filed: October 7, 2020


On behalf of the defendant-appellant, the cause was submitted on the brief of Russell D. Bohach of Russell D. Bohach Attorney at Law, Wauwatosa and the supplemental brief of Sean Bosack and Emma Jewell of Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., Milwaukee.

On behalf of the plaintiff-respondent, the cause was submitted on the brief and the supplemental brief of John A. Blimling, assistant attorney general, and Joshua L. Kaul, attorney general.

Before Neubauer, C.J., Reilly, P.J., and Gundrum, J.

REILLY, P.J.

394 Wis.2d 745

¶1 The issue presented is clear and straightforward: may the State invoke the impeachment

394 Wis.2d 746

exception to the exclusionary rule during the State's case-in-chief to "rehabilitate" one of its witnesses? We conclude that under Harris v. New York , 401 U.S. 222, 91 S.Ct. 643, 28 L.Ed.2d 1 (1971), James v. Illinois , 493 U.S. 307, 110 S.Ct. 648, 107 L.Ed.2d 676 (1990), and their progeny, the State may not utilize a defendant's voluntary statement, taken in violation of Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966),1 during

951 N.W.2d 633

its case-in-chief. We reverse as the impeachment exception applies only to the specific circumstance where a defendant testifies contrary to statements he or she made within an inadmissible statement.

394 Wis.2d 747

FACTS

¶2 Manuel Garcia appeals from a judgment convicting him of first-degree reckless homicide and an order denying his postconviction motion. Garcia was charged with and found guilty by a jury of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of his girlfriend's two-year-old son who died of "blunt trauma to the abdomen." During a custodial police interrogation, and after signing a waiver of rights form, Garcia confessed that he struck the child multiple times and threw the child onto a mattress.2 Upon motions, and following Miranda / Goodchild3 hearings, the court found that Garcia's statements were voluntary but not knowing,

394 Wis.2d 748

as Garcia, not a native English speaker, did not understand his Miranda rights when he waived them.4 The court denied the State's request to use Garcia's statements at trial in its case-in-chief.

¶3 The investigating officer testified at trial regarding his investigation without any discussion of Garcia's custodial statements. The officer had been told by Garcia at the hospital that the child had injuries from two accidents in the week prior to the child's death: slipping on some stairs and jumping out of a vehicle.5 On cross-examination, trial counsel questioned the officer at length as to why the officer did not investigate other ways, aside from the stairs and the vehicle, that the child may have been injured. In response to these questions, the State moved the court to allow the officer to be rehabilitated by

951 N.W.2d 634

utilizing Garcia's excluded statements to explain why the officer did not investigate other incidents, to wit, he did not continue his investigation as Garcia confessed to hitting and throwing the child during his custodial interrogation. The State argued that counsel had "opened the door to the confession."

394 Wis.2d 749

¶4 The court granted the State's request on the ground that while Garcia's cross-examination was proper, it was likely to mislead the jury if the State could not rebut Garcia's implication that the officer did not do a full investigation.6 A portion of Garcia's videotaped statements were shown to the jury in which Garcia admitted to punching and throwing the child. In response, trial counsel argued that Garcia was being forced to testify: "[G]iven the Court's previous ruling earlier today ... I will have to put Mr. Garcia on the stand to explain many of the things that came up during his statements.... [Garcia] feels that he now is in a position where he must testify." Garcia's testimony centered on explaining that he did not understand the difference between the word "punch" and "spank" due to English not being his primary language and that he only "spank[ed]" the child as a form of punishment on his back, butt, or side. Garcia testified that he never touched the child in the stomach/abdomen and never punched him with a closed fist. The officer testified that Garcia never "directly" told him that he touched the child in the abdomen.

¶5 The jury found Garcia guilty of first-degree reckless homicide and he received a lengthy prison sentence. Garcia filed a postconviction motion arguing that the circuit court erred when it allowed Garcia's confession to be used during the State's case-in-chief and, in the alternative, that trial counsel failed to provide effective assistance of counsel in its cross-examination of the investigating officer.7 The circuit

394 Wis.2d 750

court denied the motion without a hearing. Garcia appeals.8

¶6 On appeal, Garcia argues that the circuit court violated his constitutional rights when it allowed the State, during its case-in-chief, to introduce his previously excluded and inadmissible statements for the purpose of rehabilitating one of its witnesses. The State counters that "when a defendant seeks to use the exclusion of his inculpatory statements from the State's case-in-chief to mislead the jury about the nature of a police investigation, the rule established in Harris and its progeny permits the trial court to admit the confession during the State's case-in-chief in order to rehabilitate a witness."9 As we conclude that Harris and its progeny do not allow the State to use the impeachment exception to rehabilitate its own witness during its case-in-chief, we reverse.

951 N.W.2d 635

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶7 Although determinations regarding the admission of evidence at trial are issues generally "left to the discretion of the circuit court,"

394 Wis.2d 751

State v. Dunlap , 2002 WI 19, ¶31, 250 Wis. 2d 466, 640 N.W.2d 112, the parties agree that the standard of review for claims of constitutional error is applicable under the circumstances.10 With respect to constitutional claims, we "employ a two-step process." State v. Harris , 2017 WI 31, ¶9, 374 Wis. 2d 271, 892 N.W.2d 663 ; State v. Martwick , 2000 WI 5, ¶16, 231 Wis. 2d 801, 604 N.W.2d 552. "First, we review the circuit court's factual findings and uphold them unless they are clearly erroneous." Harris , 374 Wis. 2d 271, ¶9, 892 N.W.2d 663. Second, we "independently apply constitutional principles to those facts" to determine whether there was a constitutional violation. State v. Hogan , 2015 WI 76, ¶32, 364 Wis. 2d 167, 868 N.W.2d 124 ; State v. Tullberg , 2014 WI 134, ¶27, 359 Wis. 2d 421, 857 N.W.2d 120. In this case, Garcia does not dispute the underlying facts; therefore, only the second step is at issue.

DISCUSSION

¶8 We allow illegally obtained evidence to be introduced at trial only under narrow exceptions and specific circumstances, and the impeachment exception under Harris does not allow the introduction of a statement obtained in violation of Miranda during the State's case-in-chief to rehabilitate the State's witness. The impeachment exception to the exclusionary rule applies only to the defendant's testimony.

394 Wis.2d 752

¶9 Statements obtained in violation of Miranda are normally inadmissible. Miranda , 384 U.S. at 478-79, 86 S.Ct. 1602 ; see also State v. Knapp , 2003 WI 121, ¶¶111-14, 265 Wis. 2d 278, 666 N.W.2d 881, vacated and remanded by 542 U.S. 952, 124 S.Ct. 2932, 159 L.Ed.2d 835 (2004), reinstated in material part by 2005 WI 127, ¶2 n.3, 285 Wis. 2d 86, 700 N.W.2d 899. However, "[a] statement of the defendant made without the appropriate Miranda warnings, although inadmissible in the prosecution's case-in-chief, may be used to impeach the defendant's credibility if the defendant testifies to matters contrary to what is in the excluded statement." State v. Mendoza , 96 Wis. 2d 106, 118, 291 N.W.2d 478 (1980) (collecting cases); see also Michigan v. Harvey , 494 U.S. 344, 345-46, 350-51, 110 S.Ct. 1176, 108 L.Ed.2d 293 (1990) ("We have already decided that although statements taken in violation of only the prophylactic Miranda rules may not be used in the prosecution's case in chief, they are admissible to impeach conflicting testimony by the defendant."); Harris , 401 U.S. at 223-26, 91 S.Ct. 643 ; State v. Franklin , 228 Wis. 2d 408, 412-16, 596 N.W.2d 855 (Ct. App. 1999). This impeachment exception is applicable only if the excluded statements are found to have been made voluntarily.11 Mendoza , 96 Wis....

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1 practice notes
  • State v. Johnson, Appeal No. 2019AP664-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • October 29, 2020
    ...of the 2020 constitutional amendment apply retrospectively to grant T. standing to oppose Johnson's pending Shiffra - Green motion.19 951 N.W.2d 631 CONCLUSION¶48 For the foregoing reasons, the order of the circuit court is reversed and the cause is remanded for further proceedings consiste......
1 cases
  • State v. Johnson, Appeal No. 2019AP664-CR
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Wisconsin
    • October 29, 2020
    ...of the 2020 constitutional amendment apply retrospectively to grant T. standing to oppose Johnson's pending Shiffra - Green motion.19 951 N.W.2d 631 CONCLUSION¶48 For the foregoing reasons, the order of the circuit court is reversed and the cause is remanded for further proceedings consiste......

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