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Smith v. United States

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

March 8, 2018

SHAWN SMITH, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES, Appellee.

          Argued January 24, 2017

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CF2-8362-14) (Hon. Anita Josey-Herring, Trial Judge)

          William Collins, Public Defender Service, with whom Samia Fam, Jonathan Anderson, and Jaclyn Frankfurt, Public Defender Service, were on the brief, for appellant.

          Peter S. Smith, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Channing D. Phillips, United States Attorney at the time the briefs were filed, and Elizabeth Trosman and Laura Crane, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Thompson and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Ferren, [*] Senior Judge.

         JUDGMENT

         This case came to be heard on the transcript of record, the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

          Ferren, Senior Judge

         Appellant, Shawn Smith, was convicted of carrying a pistol outside of his home or place of business, [1] unlawful possession of a firearm by a former felon, [2] possession of an unregistered firearm, [3] and possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device.[4] He appeals his convictions, arguing for reversal on several grounds:

(1) The trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine the arresting police officer on a theory of "corruption bias."
(2) The trial court erred by precluding impeachment of the officer after he "falsely and repeatedly" testified that he had been "attacked and acted in self-defense" when striking a crime scene observer.
(3) The government's delayed and incomplete mid-trial disclosure of the officer's pending excessive force investigation in another case violated appellant's due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, [5] warranting reversal.

         For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Proceedings

         A. Events at Issue

         According to the government's evidence, at approximately 1:00 a.m. on May 11, 2014, officers of the Seventh District Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") observed a dozen or so individuals walking along 13th Street, S.E. toward Alabama Avenue. As Officers Damien Williams and Terry Couch left their vehicle "to see what was going on, " a man later identified as appellant Smith turned and began to run down the street into an alley near Savannah Street, S.E. The officers ran after Smith, who was holding his waistband while running. As Smith passed a wooden fence enclosing a yard near the alley, he pulled what "clearly" appeared to be a black semiautomatic handgun from his waistband and tossed it over the wooden fence into the yard. At the time Smith discarded the handgun, Officer Couch was approximately five to six feet behind him, followed closely by Officer Williams. Both officers described the area as "dimly lit" with streetlights.

         As Officer Couch continued to pursue Smith, Officer Williams stopped to search for the discarded handgun. Upon entering the yard, Williams located a handgun lying in the grass approximately six feet from the fence. He observed a small indentation in the ground where the handgun appeared to have landed, as well as dirt on the handgun's barrel. The handgun was also dry compared to the surrounding area, which was wet from recent rain. Rather than contact crime-scene personnel to process the area, Officer Williams photographed the handgun using his cellular phone. He then put on gloves to recover it, placed it in an evidence bag, and transported it to the police station. The parties stipulated that no fingerprints were discovered on the handgun and that DNA testing was inconclusive.

         While Officer Williams was recovering the handgun, Officer Couch continued to pursue Smith on foot and caught up to him about a block from where the handgun was discovered. Officer Couch explained that as they crossed over 13th Street, S.E. in a sprint, Smith "tripped, fell, [or] stopped, " causing them both to fall. The officer then handcuffed Smith and transported him to the hospital. Eventually, Smith was charged.

         B. The Trial

         Before swearing in the jury on December 17, 2014, the trial judge asked the parties whether there were any preliminary matters that warranted the court's attention. Both responded that there were none, whereupon each made opening statements to the jury. The government then requested a bench conference. At the bench, the government disclosed that its key witness, Officer Williams, was under investigation by the United States Attorney's Office for using "excessive force" against a bystander, Antwann Barkley, in an unrelated incident ("Barkley incident") that took place on December 1, 2014, almost seven months after the incident at issue here. The judge ordered the government to present its second witness (Officer Couch) first and held over discussion of the issues derived from the government's delayed disclosure until after Couch had testified. During a break in testimony, the prosecutor indicated that she had learned of the pending investigation a day or two earlier; that there was "no report" because the investigation was still "open"; and that there were "no documents" related to the investigation.

         After a second break in Couch's testimony, however, the prosecutor discovered a preliminary Internal Affairs Division ("IAD") report about the pending investigation, which she produced. It was dated eight days earlier, December 9, 2014, based on a referral to the U.S. Attorney's office on the day it happened, December 1. This "preliminary" document (hereafter the "IAD report") summarized the Barkley incident, as follows: On December 1, 2014, Officer Williams responded to a radio run for a homicide in the 2400 block of Elvans Road, S.E. While responding, Officer Williams and another officer saw a Chevrolet Impala collide with a lamp post near the scene of the homicide. After Williams and a colleague removed the occupants from the Impala, the officers began to secure the perimeter with crime scene tape. While doing so, the officers asked a group of bystanders, including Barkley, to leave the area. The group responded by shouting obscenities at the officers and advising the officers that they had their hands up "like Michael Brown."[6] Eventually the bystanders, except for Barkley, moved away from the scene.

          Officer Williams continued to order Barkley to move back, but Barkley instead placed his cell phone in Officer Williams's face. In the words of the report, "Officer Williams then tried to physically push Mr. Barkley back." Barkley responded, the report continued, "by jumping back and trying to strike Officer Williams with his fist." But Officer Williams "delivered a single, straight strike to Mr. Barkley's face, causing him to fall over backwards and strike his head on the ground." Barkley was then transported to the hospital, discharged with a broken jaw, and charged with two counts of assault on a police officer (one for assaulting Officer Williams, the other for assaulting another officer at the scene, Michael Johnson). Officer Williams's excessive force case was then transferred to the United States Attorney's Office.

         Attached to the IAD report were statements from three police officers, a civilian witness, and Barkley. These statements, in a few respects, were inconsistent with each other and with the IAD report itself concerning who had initiated physical contact, Barkley or Williams, and, in particular, whether Barkley had made threatening gestures to Officer Williams before the officer's "straight strike."

          Based on the IAD report, defense counsel moved for "a dismissal - a mistrial. . . . [T]his is Brady."[7] Counsel stressed that, had he received timely disclosure of the IAD information, his investigation of the case and, perforce, his cross-examination of Officer Couch "would have been different." The trial court agreed that the government had withheld evidence favorable to the defense and that its disclosure had been untimely under Brady. The court, however, rejected dismissal or a mistrial because the defense had received the IAD report, and any prejudice from the delayed disclosure would be "mitigated by the fact that [Officer Williams] . . . hasn't testified, can be crossed, and the defense can make use of this [delayed disclosure] during the course of the trial." Therefore, concluded the court, the "failure to disclose" would not be "outcome determinative here" (the result required for a Brady violation).[8]

         The next day, after the court denied a motion the government had filed for reconsideration of its Brady ruling, defense co-counsel informed the court that overnight the defense had learned from Barkley's attorney about a "cell phone video of the event." The defense also had become aware that the Gerstein[9]affidavit that Officer Williams had filed to support Barkley's arrest was "not completely consistent with the IAD report." In particular, counsel proffered that Barkley's attorney had told him, contrary to the officer's affidavit, that Barkley "was not in a fighting position" toward Williams. And, added counsel, there was an issue "about whether or not [Williams] lied in the Gerstein application" and about whether other officers "colluded in the lies."

         The trial court again denied counsel's request for Brady sanctions, ruling that it would not dismiss, grant a mistrial, or even "continue the case." The court limited cross-examination to (1) the fact that Officer Williams had an investigation "pending against him, " including the "underlying facts and circumstances"; (2) the "nature of the allegation"; and (3) any potential consequences of the investigation. Later, however, having announced that defense counsel could cross-examine about the "underlying facts and circumstances" of the Barkley incident, the court narrowed that permission by precluding cross-examination about the "underlying details" of that incident - the ruling that presents the central issue in this appeal.

          The jury found Smith guilty of all four charges, and the court sentenced him to twenty-four months of incarceration. He subsequently filed a motion for a new trial pursuant to Super. Ct. Crim. R. 33, asserting among other things that the trial court had erroneously precluded him from cross-examining Officer Williams on a "corruption bias" theory (referring to alleged falsities in Officer Williams's Gerstein affidavit). The trial court denied the motion, noting that it had allowed counsel to pursue a "mostly speculative" corruption bias theory and that "there was not sufficient evidence to support a claim of corruption bias beyond the questioning permitted by the [c]ourt." Referring to appellant's argument that he had not been able to "conduct a meaningful impeachment" of Officer Williams with respect to inconsistencies between the Gerstein and statements by other witnesses to the Barkley incident, the court observed that this was "essentially the same argument the defendant made at trial" and that the "[c]ourt does not find, on this record, [that] the arguments advanced by defense counsel established a basis for cross-examination on the issue of corruption bias."

         II. Cross-Examination for Corruption Bias

         Smith contends, first, that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine Officer Williams on a theory of "corruption bias, " discernible from the officer's false testimony under oath about the Barkley incident. The government responds that Smith did not adequately raise at trial, and thus preserve for our review, the corruption bias theory he asserts on appeal.

         A. The Right of Confrontation

         The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment "guarantees a defendant in a criminal case the right to confront witnesses 'against him.'"[10] Inherent in this right is the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses for bias, [11] "a broad term that may refer both to a witness'[s] personal bias for or against a party and to his or her motive to lie."[12] Although the trial court has "discretion to control the extent of cross-examination[, ] . . . [t]hat broad discretion cannot . . . justify a curtailment which keeps from the jury relevant and important facts bearing on the trustworthiness of crucial testimony."[13] Moreover, "[c]ross-examination concerning bias is particularly important where, as here, the credibility of the key government witness is the central factor to be weighed by the trier of fact."[14] Thus, "[a] trial court's refusal to allow questioning about facts indicative of [a witness's] bias from which the jury could reasonably draw adverse inferences of reliability is an error of constitutional dimension."[15] Furthermore, a defense effort to demonstrate bias is not limited to cross-examination. Because bias is "not a collateral issue, " a defendant may "introduce extrinsic evidence, "[16] including witnesses and documents, to establish it.

         B. Smith's Allegation of Corruption Bias

         Seeking clarification of the defense effort to cross-examine Officer Williams, the trial court first, as background for discussion, expressed at length its understanding of our Longus decision[17] explaining "corruption bias" - more specifically, "a distinct subset of bias evidence"[18] demonstrating "a willingness to give false testimony."[19] Next, because defense counsel had stressed that he would have cross-examined Officer Couch differently if he had first learned about the Barkley incident, the court asked how the "pending investigation involving Officer Williams" would have affected counsel's approach to the Officer's colleague, Couch. Defense counsel replied that he could have brought out "collusion, " that is, "how the officers protect each other" - how they "get together" and "prepare their story." He referenced not only Couch[20] but also statements of the other police witnesses attached to the IAD report. Counsel added that he was also seeking to demonstrate Williams's effort to "curry favor" with the prosecution.

         Later that day, however, in a written response to the government's motion for reconsideration of the court's Brady ruling that the Barkley disclosure had been untimely, defense counsel clarified that, in alleging collusion, the defense was fundamentally asserting corruption: "If Officer Williams lied about the incident, and colluded with his fellow officers to support his false version, then he corrupted the judicial process."[21] More specifically, claimed counsel, witness statements in the IAD report and, potentially, Barkley's cell phone video of the event possessed by Barkley's attorney, were "not consistent with the police version."

         In disputing Smith's first contention on appeal - the alleged unconstitutional limitation on defense counsel's cross-examination of Officer Williams for corruption bias - the government maintains that the trial court did not err for three reasons: (1) defense counsel never attempted to cross-examine Officer Williams "about alleged false statements in the Gerstein affidavit" (which the trial court "never precluded"); (2) counsel made mere "passing references" to discrepancies in the Gerstein affidavit while arguing, instead, a "collusion bias" theory at trial;[22] and (3) counsel proffered only "minor inconsistencies" among Officer Williams's trial testimony, his Gerstein affidavit, and the witness statements attached to the IAD report, thus failing to proffer the foundation - at least a "well-reasoned suspicion" - required to justify cross-examination for corruption bias.[23] We consider each in turn.

         1.

         The government's first argument is misleading. Defense counsel sought to test the accuracy of Officer Williams's Gerstein affidavit by reference to allegedly contrary testimony by police and other witnesses to the Barkley incident. Thus, he established on cross-examination that Williams was under investigation for an alleged "serious use of force" in another case, and that Williams had "issued a straight strike in defense of myself against [Barkley]" meaning a "jab" that is justified when "someone comes to attack you and they raise their hands." Counsel then attempted to ask Officer Williams on cross-examination whether "the individual that you hit . . . had his hands up." The trial court, however, immediately sustained the government's objection to the question, reminding counsel that he could go into "the nature of the incident" but not "the underlying details." Counsel protested, in vain, that he had information from Barkley's attorney that Barkley "had his hands up" in surrender mode; "he was not in a fighting position." Contrary to the government's representation, therefore, this left little, if any, room for counsel to cross-examine Officer Williams about allegedly false statements in the Gerstein affidavit.

         2.

         The government's second contention also fails. The government suggests (without insisting) that collusion bias and corruption bias - a bias not premised on cooperation with others - are distinct forms of bias, and that the corruption theory was not raised at trial. The differences between the two, however, are not as dissimilar as the government apparently would have it. "Collusion" bias presupposes "[a]n agreement to defraud another or to do or obtain something forbidden by law, "[24] whereas "corruption" bias can be merely an individual's "willingness to give false testimony"[25] - a "willingness to obstruct the discovery of the truth."[26] Both, however, can permeate trial testimony and, by hiding the truth, corrupt the judicial process. The fact that more than one actor participates in collusion bias cannot negate the corrupt mentality of each participant who, as a colluder, seeks to do something "forbidden by law" - in this case obstruct discovery of the truth. In the present trial context, therefore, corruption bias can be understood as a subset of alleged collusion bias.

         In any event, not only did defense counsel argue at trial that Officer Williams had "corrupted the judicial process, "[27] but also the trial court itself, in denying Smith's motion for a new trial, acknowledged that it "did allow counsel to pursue a corruption bias theory[, ] although the theory was mostly speculative." Accordingly, contrary to the government's argument, Smith's theory of the case presented on appeal had been raised at trial, albeit unsuccessfully.

         3.

         a. The Issue

         We consider, finally, the government's only substantive objection to the proffered corruption bias: Given only "minor inconsistencies" between Officer Williams's Gerstein affidavit and the witness statements attached to the IAD report, the defense did not make a "proffer of corruption bias" sufficient to justify a ruling that Smith's Sixth Amendment confrontation right had been violated.

         Smith sought to demonstrate, through cross-examination, that Officer Williams had "lied in his Gerstein affidavit" - evidence that Williams would make "false claims under oath in order to justify arrests and criminal charges." Counsel proposed to do so, as we have noted, by showing material inconsistencies (including omissions) between the Gerstein affidavit and witness statements in the IAD report and, potentially, evidence in Barkley's cell phone video possessed by his attorney.[28]

         Before pursuing a particular line of corruption bias questioning, "a defendant must lay a foundation sufficient to permit the trial judge to evaluate whether the proposed question is probative of bias."[29] To lay that foundation, defense counsel must proffer "some facts which support a genuine belief that the witness is biased in the manner asserted or, lacking such facts, at least a well-reasoned suspicion [of bias] rather than an improbable flight of fancy."[30] "At a minimum, this would . . . require that the questioner [ ] support any proposal for cross-examination with a credible statement describing the suspected cause of bias in the witness, supported by plausible factual allegations or itself plausible within the framework of facts that neither party has contested."[31] A trial court, however, "does not abuse its discretion by precluding cross-examination where the connection between the facts cited by defense counsel and the proposed line of questioning is too speculative to support the questions."[32] b. The Defense Proffers

         In this case, after a brief continuance granted to the government to file for reconsideration of the trial court's Brady ruling, defense counsel sought to show Smith's corruption bias through three proffers, one written, two oral. In his written proffer, [33] defense counsel stressed that the Gerstein affidavit omitted any reference to the fact that Barkley had been "filming . . . the event" on his cell phone; that his "video [was] not consistent with the police version that Mr. Barkley dropped the phone to assume a fighting pose"; and that although civilian witnesses were present "filming the scene, " none had been interviewed and apparently their cell phone footage was not available. Later, in his first oral proffer, defense counsel pointed out that in Officer Williams's Gerstein affidavit, he had laid out facts that were contradicted by other witnesses to that incident cited in the IAD report - facts that were likely revealed in video footage from Barkley's cell phone apparently possessed by the U.S. Attorney's office. During further proceedings, Smith's counsel added a second oral proffer by informing the court (as noted above) that Barkley's attorney had told him that Barkley "was not in a fighting position" toward Williams, thereby directly contradicting the Gerstein affidavit. Counsel then noted that, in addition to Barkley's cell phone video, which he "believe[d] the U.S. Attorney's office" possessed, there was also "another video . . . out there somewhere in the world."

         Limited by these proffers, we must conclude that the trial court did not err in precluding Smith's proposed line of corruption bias questioning, for he failed to proffer facts sufficient to support the required "well-reasoned suspicion" that Officer Williams falsified his Gerstein affidavit, the predicate for Smith's contention.

         We consider, first, the referenced cell phone videos. Defense counsel initially appears to have understood from Barkley's attorney that there was a film of virtually the entire Barkley-Williams encounter - a film he continued to believe was "somewhere out in the world." By the time counsel filed Smith's response to the government's motion to reconsider the Brady ruling, however, counsel had narrowed his focus to Barkley's own cell phone video, apparently recognizing and accepting the unavailability of cell phones that other witnesses may have been using to film the ruckus. Smith therefore relied exclusively on Barkley's cell phone (which he believed the U.S. Attorney's office possessed) for evidence that Barkley had not assumed a fighting stance before Officer Williams delivered the strike that felled him.

         In his Gerstein affidavit, Officer Williams averred that Barkley's "fist" had been "above his chest" in an "aggressive fighting stance" before Officer Williams delivered the straight strike. The IAD report is consistent with that statement; it concluded that, when Williams ordered Barkley to "back up, " Barkley had "plac[ed] his cell phone directly in Officer Williams' face, " whereupon Williams tried to "push Barkley back, " then Barkley "tried to strike Officer Williams with his fist, " at which point the officer struck Barkley. Barkley's own statement attached to the IAD report adds little; he asserted that he had been "videotaping the crash" when the "phone was knocked out of [his] hand." In this fast-moving situation, it is not clear exactly when or how the phone left Barkley's hand. But even if we assume that Barkley was holding it just before he got hit, there is little indication that Barkley could have video-photographed both himself and Officer Williams sufficiently to confirm Smith's contention that the officer had lied because Barkley's hands were not up in an "aggressive fighting stance" immediately before Williams struck him (as stated in the Gerstein affidavit).

         We turn, next, to Smith's contentions comparing the Gerstein affidavit with the IAD report. There were, indeed, inconsistencies between the Gerstein affidavit and witness accounts of the incident in the IAD report, particularly regarding whether Officer Williams initially pushed Barkley and whether Barkley's hands were up in surrender mode or in a fighting stance at the time Officer Williams struck him. But those proffered inconsistencies were not enough to generate a "well-reasoned suspicion" that Officer Williams, through his Gerstein affidavit, was corrupt - was intentionally "thwart[ing] the ascertainment of truth."[34]

         In the Gerstein affidavit, Officer Williams stated under oath (where relevant here):

[1] Officer Williams in a loud clear voice instructed Defendant Barkley to move down the sidewalk once more but he did not comply. [2] Officer Williams began to redirect Defendant Barkley from the crime scene when he began shoving Officer Williams. [3] Officer Williams issued several loud verbal commands to Defendant Barkley to stop and that he was pushing an Officer [Johnson]. [4] Defendant Barkley then took an [sic] aggressive fighting stance, placing his left foot forward, bawled his hands into fists and placed them above his chest[;] his elbows were bent at a forty-five degree angle, as he began to step toward Officer Williams again. [5] Officer Williams, fearing he was about to be struck by Defendant Barkley issued a straight [sic] strike to Defendant Barkley. [6] Defendant Barkley fell to the ground and was placed into handcuffs. [7] Defendant Barkley was subsequently placed under arrest for APO [assault on a police officer] and transported to Howard Hospital by Ambulance . . . .

         The IAD report of the same transaction stated in relevant part:

[1] All the men except Mr. Barkley moved back. Mr. Barkley continued to shout . . ., stating that he had his hands up and he was not moving. [2] Officer Williams continued to order Mr. Barkley to back up, [3] at which time, Mr. Barkley responded by placing his cell phone directly in Officer Williams' face. [4] Officer Williams ordered Mr. Barkley to move the phone out of his face, but Mr. Barkley did not comply. [5] Officer Williams then tried to physically push Mr. Barkley back, [6] who responded by jumping back and trying to strike Officer Williams with his fist. [7] Officer Williams then delivered a single strike to Mr. Barkley's face, [8] causing him to fall over backwards and strike his head on the ground.

         Antwann Barkley added two statements that were attached to the IAD report.

[1] I was trying to film and an officer smacked my phone out of my hand. [2] After that an unknown person punched me in my face [3] knocking me to the ground[;] [4] my hands were up when this happened.
I were videotaping the crash with my left hand up[;] my phone was knocked out of my hand and I were punched from the back side . . . . Don't remember anymore.

         The IAD report also included statements from four witnesses: three police officers and one civilian - statements we shall compare with the Gerstein affidavit to discern, if possible, the evidence of corruption bias that Smith alleges. Like the government, we perceive only minor inconsistencies, not larger differences, among the Gerstein affidavit, the IAD report, and the eyewitness statements. The comparisons do not manifest discernible lies, let alone corruption bias, attributable to Officer Williams.

         First, the Gerstein affidavit said that Officer Williams "instructed" Barkley to leave the scene. Similarly, the IAD report and all three officers said, respectively, that Williams "tried to guide, " "directed, " and "order[ed]" Barkley to leave - no obviously rough treatment at the outset of the confrontation. The civilian witness made no comparable assessment.

         Second, as to what followed next, in the Gerstein affidavit Officer Williams averred that Barkley "began shoving" him. Similarly, one officer stated that, initially, Barkley tried to "push hard" on Williams. To the contrary, the IAD report said that, after Barkley failed to comply with Officer Williams's order to remove the phone from his face, Williams was the first to "physically push" Barkley. Moreover, another officer also said that initially Williams "began to push" Barkley. The third officer and the civilian witness did not comment about the first "shove" or "push."

          Third, the Gerstein affidavit averred that when Barkley "began shoving" Williams, the officer "began to redirect" (meaning push)[35] Barkley from the crime scene and commanded Barkley to stop pushing a colleague (Officer Johnson). Barkley then assumed an "aggressive fighting stance" toward Williams (described in detail), whereupon Williams, in fear, "issued a straight strike" that knocked Barkley to the ground. The IAD report - stating that Williams, not Barkley, initiated physical contact - added that when Williams tried to "physically push" Barkley, Barkley tried to "strike Officer Williams with his fist, " whereupon Williams "delivered a single strike" to Barkley's face, causing Barkley to fall to the ground. In addition, a civilian witness, as well as two of the three officers, all stated that Barkley acted from a "fighting stance, " "an aggressive stance, " "balled . . . fists." The third officer referred only to Barkley's "movement." The IAD report did not say that Barkley had assumed an "aggressive" or "fighting" stance, but it did conclude that Barkley was "jumping back, " meaning "back" at Williams, before "trying to strike" the officer (who thereafter felled Barkley).

         c. The Law

         Although the "well-reasoned suspicion" standard does not require defense counsel to prove that the factual allegations proffered are true, [36] counsel must proffer more than minor sequential inconsistencies stated by different individuals whose varied perceptions of a single frenzied event may well differ.[37] Such differing accounts do not necessarily indicate that someone is lying or, without more, show corruption, the bias that Smith asserts. This conclusion is particularly justified when evaluated with reference to our corruption bias case law explaining when a proffer has been deemed sufficient.

         For example, in Longus, [38] a murder case, we discerned reversible Sixth Amendment error in the trial court's refusal to allow cross-examination and "extrinsic evidence" tending to prove the corruption bias of a police witness who, according to a newspaper account proffered by counsel - which the government had conceded was "not inaccurate" - had allegedly coached witnesses to change their stories in another homicide case and was under suspension and investigation for "witness coaching."[39] In Coates, [40] we reversed a murder conviction because of a trial court ruling that denied the defense an opportunity to present "[e]xtrinsic evidence" that an "informant had corruptly fabricated a murder confession by an innocent man in another case in order to curry favor with the government."[41] And in In re C.B.N., [42] we reversed an adjudication of armed robbery after the trial court had refused a defense proffer of "extrinsic evidence" tending to prove that the government's only identification witness had blackmailed other boys at the scene of the robbery by saying that "he would give testimony that would get them all in trouble" unless they gave him money.[43]

         These decisions addressing alleged bias appropriately considered defense-proffered reliance on extrinsic evidence indicating corruption - a "propensity or willingness" to lie.[44] That is to say, they presuppose extrinsic evidence "probative not merely of [the witness's] lack of veracity, but of his corruption - his willingness to obstruct the discovery of the truth by manufacturing or ...


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