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Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finding Consistency: Arizona Case Provides Good Example Of Prior Consistent Statement Rule

Like its federal counterpartArizona Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B) indicates that

[a] statement is not hearsay if...[t]he declarant testifies at the trial or hearing and is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement, and the statement is...consistent with the declarant's testimony and is offered to rebut an express or implied charge against the declarant of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive.

And the recent opinion of the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division 2 in State v. Georgatos, 2009 WL 2883059 (Ariz.App. Div. 2 2009), provides a good example of when the rule applies.

In Georgatos, Thomas Georgatos was convicted of three counts, each of involving a minor in a drug offense and sexual conduct with a minor under the age of fifteen, based upon the following facts adduced at trial:

On January 1, 2007, seventeen-year-old D. and her friends L. and T., both fourteen years old at the time, went with Georgatos and another man to a hotel room, where Georgatos gave them methamphetamine. After the group smoked the methamphetamine, D. left the hotel room with the other man. L. and T. stayed behind with Georgatos and, except for a trip to a gas station, L. and T. remained at the hotel for approximately the next twenty-four hours. While there, they ingested more drugs Georgatos had given them and, according to the girls, Georgatos had sexual contact with each of them.

Some of these facts came from the testimony of L, whom initially had denied sexual contact with Georgatos in interviews with police in January 2007. Defense counsel sought to discredit L. though these denials and by asserting that L. had first claimed sexual contact with Georgatos "[e]ight, nine, ten months" after the incident. Specifically, defense counsel speculated she had lied about the contact because she was "not getting enough attention in this whole thing."

The problem for Georgatos in this regard was that L. had actually told her mother in January 2007 that she had sexual contact with Georgatos.  Therefore, because defense counsel had raised a charge against L. of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive, the prosecution was able to respond by admitting L.'s statements to her mother pursuant to Arizona Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B).  

-CM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/2009/09/prior-consistentstate-v-georgatosnot-reported-in-p3d-2009-wl-2883059arizapp-div-22009.html

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