Character witnesses at issue in McCauley deadly weapon case

Character witnesses have emerged as a central issue in Sequim resident James McCauley's trial on charges of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and hit-and-run (injury accident), set to begin Monday, Feb. 8, in Clallam County Superior Court.

Clallam County Deputy prosecutor Erika Soublet alleges McCauley intentionally struck Sierra Swarm, who was crossing a Port Angeles street on Oct. 18, 2009, then drove away. Swarm was treated and released from Olympic Medical Center.

A misdemeanor charge against McCauley's wife, Pat, of making a false statement to a law enforcement officer was dismissed.

On Jan. 27, Soublet moved to exclude testimony "on credibility or believability of witnesses or on the guilt or innocence of the defendant."

State law limits proof of character to testimony concerning a witness' reputation for truthfulness, she wrote.

McCauley's attorney, Larry Freedman, says he will present character witnesses for appropriate issues.

Freedman contends witnesses for the state and the defense will "clearly conflict" and that the rules allow introduction of character witnesses in that situation.

He also states that since Pat McCauley was charged with making false statements to a public official - charges that were dismissed but could be refiled - reputation for truthfulness is relevant.

Freedman wants to exclude opinions other than from experts about damage to McCauley's vehicle.

The Port Angeles police officer who investigated the incident wrote that he could find no evidence to support McCauley's assertion that Swarm jumped off the sidewalk and onto the car hood.

Reach Brian Gawley at

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