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State v. Arnold - 2010-Ohio-2742, 126 Ohio St. 3d 290, 933 N.E.2d 775

Rule:

Statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment are nontestimonial. However, statements made to agents of the police for the primary purpose of forensic investigation are testimonial.

Facts:

A four-year-old child was allegedly sexually assaulted by her father, defendant Michael Arnold. The victim was taken the next day to a child advocacy center. A social worker interviewed the victim. Some statements that the child made to the social worker were necessary for the victim's evaluation and treatment. However, other statements were related to the ongoing investigation against Arnold. Partly based on the information obtained, Arnold was indicted for, inter alia, rape by vaginal intercourse in violation of R.C. 2907.02 in Ohio state court. Since the victim was deemed unavailable to testify, the trial court then determined that a DVD recording of the interview could be shown to the jury. The DVD was played for the jury. Arnold was convicted of the charge. Defendant appealed, and in affirming the conviction, the appellate court agreed that the statements were admissible. 

Issue:

Did the admission of the statements made for investigative or forensic purposes violate Arnold's Confrontation Clause rights under the Sixth Amendment and Ohio Const. art. I, § 10?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The state supreme court found that the statements made for investigative or forensic purposes were testimonial in nature and, thus, admission of them violated Arnold's Confrontation Clause rights under the Sixth Amendment and Ohio Const. art. I, § 10. It also found that the appellate court needed to determine whether admission of the improper statements was harmless error.

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