Thursday, September 6, 2012

State v. Motta case brief

State v. Motta (Hawaii 1983)
300 Fed. Appx. 106, 2008 U.S. App

Wendy is a cashier on duty at a coffee shop that was robbed, Motta is eventually arrested; after the robbery, Wendy talks to police artist and describes the robber, signs off on the artist rendering
at trial, Wendy identifies Motta as the robber – but it’s a weak case (in-court ID a year or two later, when the only person on trial is the person at defense table)

prosecutor wants to introduce previous identification testimony – closer to the time of the crime, no other influencing factors

note: fact that it’s an artist rendering as opposed to a police station lineup doesn’t change the analysis

-Only precondition is that W be at trial, subject to cross re the previous ID.

Wendy adopts the picture as correctly reflecting her memory of the robber – can testify to that effect, and the picture would be introduced as evidence


State v. Motta case brief summary
659 P.2d 745 (1983)

Defendant sought review of a decision of the First Circuit Court (Hawaii), which convicted him of first degree robbery by threat of force in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. § 708-840(1)(b)(ii)(1976).

Defendant's principal contentions on appeal were that the trial court committed reversible error in refusing to read his requested alibi instruction in its entirety and in admitting a police artist's composite sketch of the robbery suspect.


  • On appeal, the court held that upon careful review of the charge given to the jury, there was no danger of misapprehension because the trial court read what it considered the pertinent part of defendant's requested alibi instruction. 
  • The court found that the instruction given by the trial court sufficiently apprised the jurors that defendant must be acquitted if there was any reasonable doubt about defendant's presence at the scene of the crime after consideration of all the evidence in the case. 
  • The court found that the trial court's omission of a specific statement regarding the burden of proof in its alibi instruction did not constitute reversible error. 
  • The court held that a composite sketch was hearsay but nevertheless admissible under the hearsay exception for prior identifications if it complied with Haw. R. Evid. 802.1(3). 
  • The court held that the trial court properly denied defendant's post-trial motion to dismiss the indictment.

The court affirmed the trial court's decision which convicted defendant of first degree robbery by threat of force.

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