State v. King, 366 N.C. 68 (Jun. 14, 2012)

aff’d, 214 N.C. App. 114 (Aug. 2, 2011)

Affirming State v. King, 214 N.C. App. 114 (Aug. 2, 2011) (trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the State’s expert testimony regarding repressed memory under Rule 403), the court disavowed that part of the opinion below that relied on Barrett v. Hyldburg, 127 N.C. App. 95 (1997), to conclude that all testimony based on recovered memory must be excluded unless it is accompanied by expert testimony. The court agreed with the holding in Barrett that a witness may not express the opinion that he or she personally has experienced repressed memory. It reasoned that psychiatric theories of repressed and recovered memories may not be presented without accompanying expert testimony to prevent juror confusion and to assist juror comprehension. However, Barrett “went too far” when it added that even if the adult witness in that case were to avoid use of the term “repressed memory” and simply testified that she suddenly in remembered traumatic incidents from her childhood, such testimony must be accompanied by expert testimony. The court continued: “unless qualified as an expert or supported by admissible expert testimony, the witness may testify only to the effect that, for some time period, he or she did not recall, had no memory of, or had forgotten the incident, and may not testify that the memories were repressed or recovered.”