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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On June 10, 2003, the criminal district attorney of Dallas County filed an information in county criminal court charging Peter David Winegarner with misdemeanor assault under Texas Penal Code �22.01(a)(1). On June 7, 2004, the state brought David to trial before a jury on his plea of not guilty. At the guilt stage of the trial, the state’s principal witness was Pamela Winegarner, who testified on direct examination that: 1. she was David’s wife; 2. in June 2003, she and David resided together in Dallas County; 3. on the morning of June 3, 2003, while she and David were at home, the two of them argued over their finances; 4. in the course of that argument, David pinned her against a washing machine and shook her severely, resulting in injury to her wrist, finger and head; 5. after David released her, she ran to their bedroom, picked up a telephone and dialed 9-1-1; and 6. David then went to their dining room, picked up another telephone on the same line and attempted to prevent her from talking to the 9-1-1 operator. When the state passed Pamela to the defense for cross-examination, David’s defense attorney approached the bench and asked that she be allowed to cross-examine Pamela about her statement, “I’m not crazy enough to hit a man or start a fight.” The attorney argued that the statement opened the door to impeachment by contradiction and that she ought to be allowed to cross-examine Pamela about her plea in a previous assault case. The trial court then excused the jury and allowed David’s attorney to take Pamela on voir dire. Pamela testified on voir dire that, in 1990, when she was “much younger,” she pled guilty to and received deferred-adjudication probation for assaulting her then-husband Mohamad Knaish. When questioned about the specifics of the assault, Pamela stated only that she defended herself against Knaish when he was abusive. At the conclusion of Pamela’s testimony on voir dire, David’s attorney renewed her request to cross-examine Pamela before the jury about her assault on Knaish. The defense attorney argued that Pamela’s testimony on direct examination “left the impression that she would . . . never hit a man, and the allegations [in 1990] were that she was violent toward her husband at that time.” The trial court, after discussion, denied defense counsel’s request, explaining that, since Pamela’s assault on Knaish occurred approximately 14 years earlier, the prejudicial values of such cross-examination outweighed the probative value. Later in the course of the guilt stage, David’s attorney offered the testimony of Knaish himself concerning Pamela’s assault on him. Knaish testified on voir dire that he vaguely recalled an incident many years before with Pamela, who was his wife at the time, in which she “probably did put her hand on [his] face or something.” At the conclusion of Knaish’s testimony, the trial court ruled it, too, inadmissible. The jury subsequently found David guilty, assessed his punishment at confinement for six months and recommended that he be placed on probation. The trial court, acting in accordance with the jury’s recommendation, suspended imposition of David’s sentence and placed him on probation for two years. On direct appeal, David argued that the trial court abused its discretion in not granting defense counsel’s requests t 1. cross-examine Pamela about her assault on Knaish; and 2. have Knaish himself testify about that assault. More specifically, David argued, as he had in the trial court, that “there is no question [that Ms. Winegarner] created a false impression in front of the jury. Her testimony [that she was"not crazy enough to hit a man or start a fight'] was in direct contradiction with the fact that she had [once] been charged and pled guilty to . . . assault.” David argued that the trial court’s “exclusion of the [impeachment] evidence” harmed him because “[t]he whole case hinged on [Ms. Winegarner's] credibility.” The 5th Court of Appeals, by a vote of two to one, accepted all of David’s arguments and reversed the trial court’s judgment of conviction. HOLDING:The CCA reversed the judgment of the 5th Court of Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. In its petition and accompanying brief to the CCA, the state argued that with respect to the admissibility of the impeachment evidence at issue, the 5th Court erroneously “substituted its own judgment” for that of the trial court. An appellate court, the CCA stated, may not disturb a trial court’s evidentiary ruling absent an abuse of discretion. When a witness on direct examination makes a blanket assertion of fact, the CCA stated, and thereby leaves a false impression with respect to his previous behavior or the extent of his prior troubles with the law, he then opens the door on his otherwise irrelevant past criminal history, and opposing counsel may impeach him by exposing the falsehood. The CCA stated that when a witness’ blanket assertion of exemplary conduct “is directly relevant to the offense charged,” the opponent “may both cross-examine the [witness] and offer extrinsic evidence rebutting the statement.” On the other hand, the CCA stated that under Texas Rule of Evidence 403, a trial court may exclude any relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by any or all of the countervailing factors specified in Rule 403. Given the evidence before the trial court concerning the nature and considerable remoteness of Pamela’s assault on Knaish, the CCA found that the trial court could have reasonably concluded that the probative value, if any, of the impeachment evidence offered by David was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice or confusion of the issues or by considerations of undue delay. The CCA concluded that the trial court’s ruling excluding the impeachment evidence offered by David was within the trial court’s sound discretion. OPINION:Holcomb, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Price, Womack, Johnson, and Cochran, JJ., joined. Meyers, J., did not participate. DISSENT:Keller, P.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Keasler and Hervey, JJ., joined. “The complaining witness in this case left the jury with a false impression about a matter that went to the heart of the defense. I would hold, as did the court of appeals, that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding appellant’s impeachment evidence.”

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