In Re: Cory P involved two juveniles (J.C. and Cory P.) accused of stealing two motorbikes. J.C. willingly admitted to his role in the theft. However, Cory P. maintained his innocence and decided to put the government to its burden at trial. As part of its case in chief, the government called J.C. who testified that both he and Cory P. stole the motorbikes.
During the defense’s presentation of evidence, it introduced Facebook posts allegedly made by J.C. In these posts, J.C. not only admitted to stealing the motorbikes but also stated that was going to blame the defendant for the thefts. On cross-examination, the government introduced State’s Exhibit A which consisted of fabricated Facebook posts in which Cory P., not J.C., allegedly admitted to the thefts. When confronted by these fabricated posts on cross-examination Cory P. denied making them. The prosecutor then admitted that she had made up these Facebook posts during her lunch break. The prosecutor indicated that she made up the posts to show that you can manipulate Facebook pages if you don’t print out the Facebook pages…” Defense counsel for Cory P. never objected to these fabricated posts. The defendant was ultimately convicted of two counts of theft.
On appeal Cory P. raised several counts of error all of which were rejected. With respect to the fake Facebook posts the appellate court made the following determination. We find that appellee acted improperly in misleading appellant and not disclosing to appellant or his counsel that Exhibit A was a document that she had fabricated during her lunch hour in order to cross-examine appellant…However, we note that defense counsel never objected to appellee’s conduct. “Absent plain error, an appellate court will not consider errors that the defendant failed to object to at the trial level.”… Because the trial in this case was a bench trial, as opposed to a jury trial, and based on the evidence, as set forth in the following assignment of error, we find that the appellant was not prejudiced. The trial court, as trier of fact, was aware that appellee had fabricated the Facebook messages. We find that appellant was not prejudiced because there was not a reasonable likelihood that the judgment was affected.