Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Hearsay Statements of Child Victims
In a case that will impact a large number of child molestation cases, the Supreme Court of Ohio placed a limit on the type of "hearsay" statements of children that a prosecutor may present at child molestation trial. "Hearsay" is when person A comes to court and testifies about what person B said on a previous occassion. Most hearsay statements are prohibited from being admitted at trial - but some very specific types are. In State v. Arnold, the Ohio Supreme Court stated that only some of the hearsay statements of child victims come in at trial - those that a child states to a medical professional for medical purposes. Child victims are often interviewed by medical professionals in the context of a police investigation in order to assess their injuries. These are the type of hearsay statements that a prosecutor may use at trial - an essentially no others. This ruling will require police and prosecutors to be much more careful about who asks questions and what topics those persons cover during interviews of child victims. Regardless of what non-legal types may presume, these are always awful cases to investigate and defend - and this ruling makes the rules about how these uncomfortable cases are presented at trial.