State v. Swinney

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 03-11-2015
  • Case #: A150015
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Sercombe, J.; & Hadlock, J..
  • Full Text Opinion

An officer's expert testimony regarding sexual grooming and abuse is relevant under OEC 401, admissible under OEC 702, and does not constitute an impermissible comment for a victim's credibility.

Defendant was convicted on multiple counts of various sex crimes. The problem started with multiple incidents of grooming behavior. The victim, four years after the abuse occurred, told police of the abuse. At trial, the court allowed the testimony of an officer who testified as to what constituted "grooming" behavior and attested that the behavior by the Defendant towards the Victim, as told by the victim, constituted a classic case of grooming behavior by a family member. On appeal, Defendant contended that under OEC 401 and 403 the testimony of the officer was not relevant, and if relevant, he was not qualified under OEC 702 to testify as an expert witness. Furthermore, the testimony of the officer, the Defendant contends, is that it was an indirect comment as to the victim's credibility. The Court denied all of Defendant's contentions, ruling that such testimony helps the trier of fact, and is therefore relevant; that the officer was qualified as an expert under OEC 702; and, that the officer made no comment as to the credibility of the victim, but instead, only commented as to whether or not the story fit the typical pattern of grooming behavior. It was not impermissible testimony as to the victim's credibility. Affirmed.

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