Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Objection! Hearsay!

The Georgia Supreme Court held that the failure of defense counsel to object to improper hearsay testimony amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel and reversed a malice murder conviction. The evidence at issue came from the state's firearms examiner, who testified about what she had been told by a "technical representative" of a holster manufacturer. Although counsel had objected to follow up questions, no objection had been raised to the first hearsay statement. "[T]he testimony was inadmissible hearsay. An expert may not give an opinion that is based entirely on hearsay reports, knowledge, or opinions of other experts." The court noted that the state's case was not an overwhelming one, as there had been two prior hung juries. Also, the key witness was a crack addict. A dissent would find that any error was insufficiently prejudicial to require reversal. (Mike Frisch)

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