State v. Gibson

In State v. Gibson, 202 Ariz. 321, 44 P.3d 1001 (2002), that court commented upon the "inherent tendency" test enunciated in Fulminante and rejected it to the extent that it could be interpreted as putting the focus "on the third party's guilt" when considering the admissibility of such evidence. 202 Ariz. at 323, 44 P.2d at 1003. Instead, it "clarified" that the appropriate analysis of admissibility was found in "Rules 401, 402, and 403, Arizona Rules of Evidence." Id. Therefore, it reasoned, the proper inquiry was whether the proffered evidence was "relevant," i.e., whether it tended to make the existence of any fact of consequence to the determination of guilt more or less probable than it would be without that evidence. Id. (citing Ariz. R. Evid. 401). Thus, the court concluded that the "proper focus in determining relevancy" was "the effect the evidence has upon the defendant's culpability," and that "to be relevant, the evidence need only tend to create a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt." Id. at 324, 44 P.3d at 1004. However, it further acknowledged that, to the extent that the Fulminante "clear link" standard really connoted no more than an "abbreviation for the conventional 401-403 balancing test," it presented no problems, so long as the same ruling would have been made "regardless of the nomenclature" adopted. Id.