State v. McLaughlin, 246 N.C. App. 306 (2016)

No Error
  • The admission in evidence over objection of a copy and transcript of the Children’s Advocacy Center DVD, which recorded the nurse’s interview portion of the child’s medical evaluation that included the 15 year old’s disclosure of ongoing sexual abuse did not violate the Confrontation Clause, which applies to criminal proceedings. The purpose of the Confrontation Clause is to ensure the reliability (trustworthiness) of evidence, especially “in cases of child sexual abuse, where children are often incompetent or … unavailable to testify.” In this case, the child sexual abuse victim had committed suicide and was therefore unavailable to testify at trial.
  • The court looks to the totality of the circumstances regarding the statement including (1) whether it is nontestimonial in nature, (2) whether it meets an exception based on it being as reliable as cross-examined court testimony because of the circumstances under which it is made, such as medical diagnosis or treatment, (3) who the statement was made to, (4) the primary purpose for which the statement was made, (5) the primary purpose for which it was offered at trial, and (6) public policy concerns. Here, the statement is non-testimonial as it was made for the primary purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment to safeguard the child’s mental and physical health.
  • The mandatory reporting law regarding suspected child abuse does not convert the statement to testimonial; the primary purpose is not to create an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony. 
Criminal Cases with Application to Child Welfare
Confrontation Clause and Child's Statement
Click on a term below for additional case summaries tagged with the same term.