State v. Harrell

In State v. Harrell, 199 Conn. 255, 506 A.2d 1041 (1986), the defendant was convicted of burglary in the second degree with a firearm and attempt to commit robbery in the first degree. The trial court denied his motion in limine, which sought to prohibit the state from introducing into evidence his prior convictions for robbery, forgery and attempted false pretenses. The defendant chose not to testify. On appeal, he argued that because the court ruled that his prior convictions would be admissible as named felonies for impeachment purposes, he was prevented from exercising his fundamental right to present a defense. The Court rejected the defendant's claim and followed the holding of Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38 (1984), that to "raise and preserve for review the claim of improper impeachment with a prior conviction, a defendant must testify." State v. Harrell, supra, 199 Conn. at 265-66. In addition, the court noted that "because an accused's decision whether to testify seldom turns on the resolution of one factor . . . a reviewing court cannot assume that the adverse ruling motivated a defendant's decision not to testify." Id., at 267. The court also recognized that "a defendant may decide not to take the witness stand because of the risk of cross-examination. But this is a choice of litigation tactics." State v. Harrell, supra, 199 Conn. at 264.