State v. Thomas L. Scott (A-86-15; 077434)
The evidence proffered by the State goes far afield of a proper bias inquiry. The evidence is inadmissible under the dictates of New Jersey Rules of Evidence 403 and 608, which govern admissibility of prior bad acts and character evidence for truthfulness. That error prevented defendant from fully developing his defense at trial and deprived the jury of key witness testimony. Exclusion of testimony central to a defendant’s claim or defense, if otherwise admissible, cannot be held to be harmless error.