State v. AnthonyAnnotate this Case
Defendant was charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide. At trial, Defendant indicated that he wished to testify. Defendant insisted that he would inform the jury of allegedly wrongful prior conviction for armed robbery. The circuit court decided that Defendant’ proposed testimony concerning the prior conviction was irrelevant. Defendant, however, promised that, if permitted to testify, he would disobey the circuit court’s evidentiary ruling. The circuit court determined, over timely defense objection, that Defendant forfeited his right to testify at trial by exhibiting stubborn and defiant conduct that threatened both the fairness and reliability of the criminal trial process and the preservation of dignity, order and decorum in the courtroom. The jury subsequently convicted Defendant of first-degree intentional homicide. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant the right to testify, as the court’s forfeiture determination was not arbitrary or disproportionate to the purposes it was designed to serve; and (2) even if the court assumed error, such error was subject to harmless error analysis, and in this case, the assumed error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.