Dept. of Human Services v. G. D. W.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 12-13-2012
  • Case #: S059950
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: De Muniz, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under EOC 801(4)(b)(A), an individual's out-of-court statement cannot be used as a statement of a party opponent unless there is evidence that the individual declared an adverse position to a party in the hearing.

In a juvenile dependency hearing, a child's out-of-court statement was used as evidence to determine that the father had previously sexually abused the child. The mother of the child made a report that the father assaulted her and sexually abused the child. Based on the report from the mother, the father was arrested. The next day, the child indicated during a police interview that she had been sexually abused by the father. Two weeks later, in a taped interview, the child stated again that she was touched sexually by her father. Several months later, during another interview, the child and mother both admitted the child had lied about being sexually abused and was coached by the mother to do so. The Department of Human Services (DHS) had the children taken into protective custody and scheduled the dependency hearing. During the juvenile dependency hearing, DHS argued the child's out-of-court statements regarding the sexual abuse should be admitted because they were statements of the party opponent under OEC 801(4)(b)(A). The father argued that admission of the child's statements were a violation of his constitutionally protected rights to a fundamentally fair proceeding since he did not get to cross-examine her. The Supreme Court ruled that in the absence of evidence that the child took an adverse position to a party in the dependency hearing, the out-of-court statements cannot be allowed as evidence on the record because the child is not an established party-opponent. Reversed and remanded to the juvenile court.

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