Evidence Rule 402


Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

Last updated 3/1/2016
Evidence Rule 402 -- Relevant Evidence Generally Admissible; Irrelevant Evidence Inadmissible
State v. Maiolo, 2nd Dist. Clark No. 2015-CA-15, 2015-Ohio-4788
Trial court erred by admitting testimony that Appellant's co-defendant pleaded guilty to breaking and entering, the same charge for which Appellant was on trial. The co-defendant's case had previously been separately resolved and he was not called to testify. His plea was irrelevant to this defendant's guilt or innocence. Court found error harmless, however.
State v. Jackson, 107 Ohio St. 3d 53, 2005-Ohio-5981, ¶71 -- Victim's bloodstained clothing was irrelevant where the cause of death was shots to the head.
State v. Daniels, Cuyahoga App. No. 81367, 2003-Ohio-1344 -- Defense called a police officer as a character witness. Prosecutor, with aid from the bench, adduced testimony that the defendant's brother was in jail on homicide charges. Testimony was irrelevant and introducing it was prosecutorial misconduct. Reversed as the court is unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury would have otherwise found the defendant guilty.
State v. Sanders (2001), 92 Ohio St. 3d 245, 256-257 -- Court takes a broad view of relevancy in reviewing testimony concerning the Lucasville riot ranging beyond the homicides charged.
State v. Allison (November 16, 2000), Franklin Co. App. No. 99AP-1375, unreported -- Witnesses testified bare-chested robber had no tatoos. Court refused to allow defendant to display his tattoos. Reversed. Also see State v. Franklin, 97 Ohio St. 3d 1, 2002-Ohio-5304, ¶ 26. Compare State v. Huff (2001), 145 Ohio App. 3d 555, 565 where ordering defendant to display his tattoo leads to reversal. State's only apparent reason was to suggest gang membership, which was irrelevant.
State v. Chavis, Franklin App. Nos. 01AP-1456, 01AP-1466, 2003-Ohio-512 -- Evidence of gang affiliation deemed irrelevant. Evid. R. 404(B) claim by the state fails since the record contained neither general evidence that gang members are extremely loyal or allied to one another, nor specific evidence that the motive or common purpose for the murders in question was gang loyalty or alliance.
State v. Jenkins, Cuyahoga App. No. 82622, 2004-Ohio-136, ¶ 48-49 -- Defendant allegedly attempted to murder a fellow addict and dispose of body along with her electronic monitoring device before his trial set in a Florida federal court. Means was multiple injections of insulin. Testimony that the intended victim was HIV positive was properly excluded as irrelevant. So was testimony as to the number of minority patients seen at a dental practice the intended victim was sent to.
State v. Lyles (1989), 42 Ohio St. 3d 98, 99 -- "Generally speaking, the question of whether evidence is relevant is ordinarily not one of law but rather one which the trial court can resolve based on common experience and logic."
State v. Sage (1987), 31 Ohio St. 3d 173 -- Paragraph two of the syllabus: "The admission or exclusion of relevant evidence rests within the sound discretion of the trial court."
State v. Roquemore (1993), 85 Ohio App. 3d 448, 461-462 -- Testimony that victim had been upset earlier during the night of her death by comments concerning sex with a French poodle was irrelevant and prejudicial. Failure to turn down volume control on tape recorder during improper reference to prior arrest was also reversible error.
State v. Taubman (1992), 78 Ohio App. 3d 834, 840 -- In a sale of unregistered securities prosecution, evidence as to losses suffered by purchasers is irrelevant.
McClusky v. Burroughs (1982), 4 Ohio App. 3d 182 -- Testimony concerning comparable transfer of property six years earlier was too remote in time to be relevant on claim of undue influence.
State v. Boyd (1985), 18 Ohio St. 3d 30 -- In an OMVI per se prosecution the relevant issues are whether the defendant operated the vehicle and the concentration of alcohol in his blood, breath or urine. At p. 31: "Standing alone, (defendant's) appearance, manner of speech and walking, and lack of any symptoms of intoxication are not relevant evidence and, therefore, not admissible."
Columbus v. Taylor (1988), 39 Ohio St. 3d 162 -- Admission of results of experimental testing seeking to replicate alcohol consumption and resulting blood alcohol concentration within the discretion of the court. No abuse of discretion where court concluded conditions could not fairly be duplicated.
People v. Tolliver (1984), 16 Ohio App. 3d 120 -- (1) References to name of defense witness (Cockwell) and her change of gender were irrelevant and prejudicial. (2) Defendant was entitled to show police beat him at time of arrest in order to show they were indifferent to his claim he had been handed the wrong coat (containing drugs).
State v. Mann (1985), 19 Ohio St. 3d 34 -- Paragraph two of the syllabus: "A videotape which shows the actual events immediately prior to defendant's arrest is relevant in defense against a charge of resisting arrest and is admissible provided the probative value is not substantially outweighed by the grounds for exclusion set forth in Evid. R. 403."
Columbus v. Maxey (1988), 39 Ohio App. 3d 171 -- Where officers have testified that the defendant had difficulty performing field sobriety tests, it was error to prevent the defendant from repeating those tests in the courtroom to demonstrate that difficulty was caused by other physical problems.
State v. Yost (1986), 33 Ohio App. 3d 173 -- Error to make known to the jury the injuries which were sustained by one of the other drivers involved in an accident where they were irrelevant to the issues properly before the jury.
State v. Black (1991), 75 Ohio App. 3d 667, 671-672 -- Evidence that the defendant had been discharged from his job based on the conduct giving rise to the criminal charges was irrelevant, and even if relevant probative value would have been outweighed by potential prejudice.

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