Admission of Video Tape Hearsay Warranted Reversal

In South Carolina Department of Social Services v. Pringle, the supreme court held that a family court erred in admitting video tape hearsay where the interviewer was not a qualified person under Section 19-1-180(G) (Supp. 2012) of the South Carolina Code of Laws.

After Father and Mother divorced, two of their daughters alleged that Father sexually abused them.  The Department of Social Services (“DSS”) had the children interviewed by a child forensic interviewer.  DSS sought to introduce the video testimony of the two daughters through use of video tape under Section 19-1-180.  For the video tape testimony to be admissible under section 19-1-180(B), the family court must (1) find the child is unavailable due to a statutory reason and (2) the hearsay has “particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.” Continue reading

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A Lay Witness Cannot Give an Expert Opinion

In In the Matter of the Care and Treatment of Thomas S., the supreme court reversed a determination that Thomas S. was a sexual violent predator because the only evidence to prove he was a sexual violent predator was from a lay witness who had no first-hand knowledge.

Thomas was convicted at the age of ten for engaging in oral and anal sex and fondling with a six year old.  He was sentenced to the Department of Juvenile Justice for an undetermined period not to exceed his twenty-first birthday.  In 2008, the Juvenile Board determined he was eligible for release, which triggered review under the Sexual Violent Predator Act (SVP Act).  Continue reading

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