Coles and Harsch and their wives were part of the same
social group. Harsch had a propensity for engaging Coles' wife in
Coles did not approve of this behavior.
Eventually Coles' wife left him and filed for divorce.
Coles sued Harsch for $50k, charging that Harsch had
maliciously shown "improper affection" to Coles wife, resulting
in her becoming alienated and leaving him.
At trial, Harsch called a guy named Thompson as a
witness. Thompson testified that Harsh wrestled with a lot of people's
wives and it was totally harmless.
Later, Coles testified that Thompson once told him that
Harsch's behavior was disgraceful.
Harsch objected on the grounds that the testimony was
Coles argued that the testimony was meant to impeach the
credibility of Harsch as a witness, not to prove the truth of the matter
Harsch argued that Coles never asked Thompson about the
incident while cross-examining him, and therefore it was improper to
introduce Coles' testimony to impeach Thompson.
The Trial Judge allowed the testimony to be admitted.
The Trial Court found for Coles and awarded $17.5k in
damages. Harsch appealed.
The Oregon Supreme Court reversed.
The Oregon Supreme Court looked to Oregon State rules of evidence and found that in order to introduce a prior statement impeaching a
witness, you must ask the witness about the alleged prior statement
during cross-examination, and give them the opportunity to explain the