A recently decided Appellate decision which was approved for publication, the court clarifies the rules on when and how testimony from a domestic violence trial (which is a civil proceeding) may be used in a subsequent criminal case. This decision highlights the need for thorough preparation of proposed testimony to make sure the witnesses’ statements are accurate, truthful, and consistent.
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE — STATEMENTS
14-2-7241 State v. Duprey, App. Div. (Waugh, J.A.D.) (15 pp.) This case required us to determine whether testimony given by the plaintiff or defendant during the trial of a domestic-violence matter can be used for the purposes of cross-examination in a related criminal trial. We determined that a broad application of the language of N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(a), which provides that “testimony given by the plaintiff or defendant in the domestic violence matter shall not be used in the simultaneous or subsequent criminal proceeding against the defendant,” would impair a criminal defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. The Legislature did not intend to permit a criminal defendant who testifies at his criminal trial to be immune from cross-examination based on prior inconsistent statements made under oath at the DV trial. We held that testimony from a DV trial can be used for the limited purpose of cross-examination in a manner consistent with the opinion, but cannot be used as affirmative evidence except as permitted by the statute.