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Dept. of Human Services v. J.G.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-01-2012
Case #: A150208
Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Wollheim, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A150208.pdf

Evidence: Because Oregon courts recognize the parent-stepchild relationship, out-of-court statements that are adverse to the stepchild's interests in maintaining a relationship with the step-parent are nonhearsay admissions of a party-opponent and therefore admissible.

Father appealed a court determination that his biological son (AG) was within the court's jurisdiction. At the start of the hearing, the court clarified that the hearing was for all the children - 4 step-children and AG. Father did not object. The step-children recounted instances of physical and emotional abuse to two testifying witnesses. Father objected, claiming the testimony was inadmissible as hearsay. The court decided that the statements were admissions of a party-opponent and thus admissible. Father's argued on appeal that the application of the rule was error because, for the party-opponent hearsay exception to apply, the declarant must be a party. Father asserts the step-children are not parties to AG's case. The Court of Appeals held that because there was no objection to hearing the jurisdiction issue of all 5 children, the children were one party. Father also raised the argument that the testimony should be excluded because of his status as a step-parent. The Court held that the testimony recounting the abuse were exceptions to the hearsay rule because Oregon recognizes parent-stepchild relationships; therefore, the statements made were adverse to their own interests in maintaining the relationship with their step-parent. Affirmed.