State v Cuttler

Cuttler was charged with molesting his seven year old daughter. The government moved to present evidence that Cuttler molested two other daughters at similar ages in the 1980s. The district court ruled the evidence to satisfy Rule of Evidence 404(c), but was unduly prejudicial under rule of evidence 403 and excluded it. The court allowed an interlocutory appeal and reversed. It held the district court erred in mechanically analyzing the factors listed in State v Shickles as the Court previously held in a Rule 404(b) case those were inconsistent with the language of 403 and at least one factor, overwhelming hostility, went beyond the rule and should no longer be used in any case. The Court also ruled the application of the factors was also erroneous as the similarities among the offenses (daughters around 7 years old, similar acts and similar words used) distinguished them form runoff the mill offenses, propensity is no longer prejudicial, the district court could limit prejudice by limiting the facts about the prior molestation admitted into evidence and the focus on the time between offenses was unreasonable as it would essentially eliminate the ability to prove intergenerational abuse.