State v. Cartee

In State v. Cartee, 161 Vt. 73, 75, 632 A.2d 1108, 1110 (1993), where defendant was accused of sexually assaulting a sixteen-year-old boy, we held that the trial court erred in restricting defendant's cross-examination of the complainant. The court in that case did not allow defendant to inquire about the possibility that complainant was motivated to fabricate the charges in order to protect his stepfather, who had been implicated by defendant in committing insurance fraud. The court reasoned that defendant's offer of proof was mere speculation and, even if there existed some probative value in the evidence contained in the offer, it was outweighed by the countervailing factors enumerated in V.R.E. 403. The Court reversed, finding that, in light of defendant's right to confrontation, the court both abused its discretion and committed reversible error because the complainant's testimony played a critical role in the State's case and his credibility was a "pivotal issue bearing on defendant's guilt." Cartee, 161 Vt. at 77, 632 A.2d at 1111.