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State v. Patterson

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

February 27, 2017

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY W. PATTERSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF OTERO COUNTY Jerry H. Ritter Jr., District Judge

          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM Elizabeth Ashton, Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee

          Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Sergio Viscoli, Appellate Defender Matthew J. O'Gorman, Assistant Appellate Defender David Henderson, Assistant Appellate Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellant

          OPINION

          STEPHEN G. FRENCH, Judge

         {1} A jury convicted Defendant Anthony Patterson of two counts of trafficking oxycodone by distribution, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-31-20(A)(2), (B)(1) (2006). Defendant argues that the district court committed reversible error by denying him the opportunity to: (1) cross-examine an undercover narcotics enforcement agent (Undercover Agent), about a prior instance of untruthfulness and about a conversation between Undercover Agent and a confidential informant; and (2) present an entrapment defense. Defendant also argues that the district court's order to return the computer projector he received as payment in one of the drug transactions was improper. We agree with Defendant that the district court improperly limited Defendant's cross-examination, contrary to Rule 11-608 NMRA. Accordingly, we reverse Defendant's convictions. We leave Defendant's other arguments unexamined.

         BACKGROUND

         {2} We focus our background discussion on the subset of facts relevant to the issue we reach in this opinion. Defendant was arrested in connection with two sales of narcotic pills. The transactions took place principally between Defendant, Undercover Agent, and a confidential informant.

         {3} At trial, Undercover Agent testified that on October 26, 2011, Defendant exchanged five oxycodone pills for a backpack with a computer projector in it and, on November 18, 2011, sold five oxycodone pills. The confidential informant did not testify.

         {4} On cross-examination of Undercover Agent, Defendant sought to inquire about an occasion that the Undercover Agent purportedly admitted in court to misrepresentation in a police report:

Counsel: [R]egarding these reports that you make. And you're saying that they're accurate except in this case you said there may be some typos on these two reports, is that correct?
Undercover Agent: That's correct.
Counsel: Okay. Now, were you involved with [the confidential informant] on [another case]?
Undercover Agent: I was, yes.
Counsel: And actually, that charge went federal [be]cause there was a ...

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