In re J.M., 255 N.C. App. 483 (2017)

Affirmed in Part
  • The findings supporting the court’s adjudication of abuse were supported by competent evidence.
  • The grandmother’s testimony about a phone call and text from respondent mother that disclosed respondent father’s physical abuse of her (respondent mother) when the children were present and physical discipline of the child was properly admitted as an admission by a party opponent exception to hearsay. G.S. 8C-801. Although the statements made to the grandmother were not the respondent father’s, the respondent mother is also a party to the abuse and neglect action. Relying on In re Hayden, 96 N.C.  App. 77 (1989), a respondent mother’s statements about the respondent father’s conduct is an admission by respondent mother that the child was subjected to conduct in her presence, which relates to the court’s determination of the child’s abuse or neglect. The adjudication is about the child’s circumstances and conditions not the parent’s culpability.
  • The physicians’ testimony of respondent mother’s statements made during the child’s well-child visit and emergency room visit were properly admitted as statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment exception to hearsay. G.S. 8C-803(4).  The statements satisfied both parts of the Hinnant requirements: (1) they were made for the purposes of medical diagnosis and treatment and (2) they were reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment. State v. Hinnant, 351 N.C. 277 (2000). The statements made by the respondent mother of the respondent father’s actions toward the child were made at the medical settings and were part of the providers’ attempts to diagnosis the child’s injuries. The mother made the statements when discussing her concerns about the child and when the pediatrician observed marks on the child’s body and bloodshot eyes, which resulted in the pediatrician sending the child to the ER. This hearsay exception does not require that the declarant be the patient and applies to statements made by the parent of a child patient when the parent is giving information to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of the child. 
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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