In chambers before the grand larceny trial of Milton and Virginia LaVanway, the court apparently ruled that testimony about the defendants' prior drug use' was inadmissible in the state's case. When the defendants subsequently testified to their good character, however, the trial court admitted such evidence for purposes of impeachment. On appeal of their convictions defendants challenged the admission of the evidence. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the convictions, holding that once a defendant's character has been placed in issue, evidence of drug use is admissible to attack his or her character on cross-examination. The plurality opinion also stated in dictum that such evidence is inadmissible to attack a defendant's capacity, absent medical or scientific proof "connecting addiction to a lack of veracity." State v. Renneberg, 83 Wn. 2d 735, 522 P.2d 835 (1974).
Randall A. Peterman,
Evidence—Credibility Impeachment and the Drug-Using Witness—State v. Renneberg, 83 Wn. 2d 735, 522 P.2d 835 (1974),
50 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol50/iss4/8