Wednesday, December 6, 2006
In most states, there is no right to a jury trial in dissolution actions. Only eleven states allow juries in any aspect of divorce litigation (Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin). Most of these limit the right to a jury to try issues regarding grounds or entitlement for divorce only. Texas provides jury trial rights most broadly, including even the right to a jury trial on questions regarding child custody. (For citations, see the annotation on the subject at 56 A.L.R.4th 955).
Accordingly, cases discussing evidentiary issues in divorce actions are a rarity. A recent Georgia Supreme Court decision demonstrates that, few evidentiary errors will be likely to be sufficiently egregious to rise above the harmless error standard. Husband had alleged numerous evidentiary errors in the divorce action, including, for example, allowing cross examination regarding husband's opinion as to fair alimony and property division, admitting an improperly authenticated document, and allowing witness testimony impeaching the testimony of the husband's lover before the lover testified. As to each, the supreme court found the error harmless. The court also rejected husband's appeal of the denial of a mistrial based on improper closing arguments due to a failure to object during that argument.
Moxley v. Moxley, 2006 Ga. LEXIS 987 (November 28, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited December 4, 2006 bgf)