The Lindstroms owned Bay Therapy, which provided physical
therapy treatment to injured people. They were arrested on suspicion of
Allegedly, the Lindstroms were charging insurance
companies for treatments patients did not need and did not receive.
At trial, the prosecution called a Bay Therapy employee,
Slater, who testified that she had conspired with the Lindstrom's to
During cross-examination, the Lindstroms attempted to
introduce evidence that Slater had psychiatric problems.
The Trial Judge placed limitations on Slater's
questioning with regards to her prior psychiatric treatment. They could
only ask three specific questions about the times Slater had been
committed to an institution.
The Lindstroms argued that Slater had a vendetta against
them due to psychological problems. They argued that they had a right
to impeach under FRE 608(b).
The prosecution argued that Slater's psychological
problems were a collateral issue.
The Trial Judge found that many of the instances were
not instances of conduct that went to truthfulness, and were just
The Trial Court found the Lindstroms guilty of fraud.
The Trial Court found that FRE 608(b) was not
controlling, although it was akin to a 608(b) issue.
The Lindstroms argued that the 6th Amendment
mandates that a criminal defendant has the right to confront witnesses.
They felt that the Trial Judge's limitations violated that right.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found that one of the goals of
cross-examination is impeaching the credibility of a witness. And the
presence of certain mental illnesses have high probative value in
determining the credibility of a witness.
Especially in this case, since Slater had tried to kill
people in the past.
There is a difference between character and capacity.
You cannot introduce extrinsic evidence that goes to character, but you
can introduce that evidence to show that they don't have the capacity
to tell the truth.
Looking at capacity is like looking at bias,
it is never a collateral issue.
Therefore, the Appellate Court found that it was a
violation of the 6th Amendment for the Lindstroms not
to be able to question Slater's sanity as a method for impeachment.