Forensic Interviews in Sex Offense Cases in Tennessee
On April 8, 2015, Memphis Sex Crime Attorney J. Jeffrey Lee will serve as a featured speaker to a national audience regarding “Litigation Tools to Combat the Use of Forensic Interviews in Sex Offense Cases.” He will discuss the recent Herron case, which was addressed the Tennessee Supreme Court.
To learn more the nonprofit organization sponsoring this event, please visit Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc.
The defendant was charged with and convicted of rape of a child, and he received a twenty five-year sentence. The defendant appealed, raising seven issues. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court erred by(1) allowing the prosecution to introduce the child’s prior consistent statement, a recorded forensic interview, during its case-in-chief before the child’s credibility had been challenged; and (2) ruling that if the defendant chose to testify the prosecution would be permitted to ask him whether he had been previously arrested or convicted of an unnamed felony. Nevertheless, in a divided decision, two judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that these errors were neither individually nor cumulatively prejudicial. The dissenting judge opined that the second error alone was prejudicial and entitled the defendant to a new trial. We affirm the Court of Criminal Appeals’ conclusions that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction and that the election is sufficiently specific and definite. We hold that the cumulative effect of the two conceded trial errors is prejudicial and entitles the defendant to a new trial. Because of the remand for a new trial, we do not address the defendant’s other allegations of evidentiary errors. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed in part; the defendant’s conviction is vacated; and this matter is remanded to the trial court for a new trial, consistent with this decision.
Taken from http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/courts/supreme-court/opinions/2015/03/26/state-tennessee-v-frederick-herron
The entire case can be downloaded here.