Dominguez and Fields

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 06-28-2017
  • Case #: A159621
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: DeHoog, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J. & Flynn, J. pro tempore.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under OEC 611(1), a trial court, may “exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witness and presenting evidence so as to make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth, avoid needless consumption of time and protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.”

Respondent-Appellant, Mother, sought review of a supplemental judgment that changed the custody of the parties’ children from Mother to Father. Mother argued that the circuit court had erred and abused its discretion when it denied her a sufficient opportunity to present her case by limiting her presentation at trial, and her post-hearing request to examine another witness. Petitioner-Respondent, Father, in turn argued that the circuit court had properly managed the time for each party during the hearing, and gave both parties a reasonable opportunity to present their cases respectively. A trial court, may in the exercise of sound discretion, “exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witness and presenting evidence so as to make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth, avoid needless consumption of time and protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.” OEC 611(1). Further “although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by […] considerations of undue delay or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.” OEC 403. The Court of Appeals rejected mother’s argument and found beyond dispute that she had sufficient opportunity to present a complete case. The Court reasoned that although the court below had limited the time allotted to both parties, it in no way prevented mother’s ability to present her case. The Court based its ruling on the fact that the circuit court expressly considered mother’s trial memorandum (which it allowed stand in lieu of an opening statement), arguments during the hearing, a lengthy written closing statement, and unsworn declarations of both mother and the witness she intended to call at the post hearing. In concluding the court noted that its decision here did not intend to suggest that, in every occasion, allowing a party to enter a written testimony is a sufficient alternate to that party’s right to present live witnesses. Affirmed.

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