Moore v. City of Leeds

Mr. Moore was convicted of third-degree domestic violence, harassment, and harassing communications based on evidence he attacked his ex-wife, Karen Kelly, while they were driving in a car.  On appeal, Mr. Moore argued that the trial court improperly admitted testimony from the treating physician as to what Ms. Kelly told him when he was treating her broken nose.  Specifically, the physician testified that Ms. Kelly told him her injuries were caused as a result of an “altercation with her husband while they were driving.”  Mr. Moore argued that this statement was not admissible because it did not concern the cause of Ms. Kelly’s injuries but was a statement of fault, which is inadmissible under Alabama Rule of Evidence 804(3). In concluding that the physician’s testimony was admissible under Rule 804(3), the appellate court cited two prior decisions applying either Alabama Rule of Evidence 804(3) or Federal Rule of Evidence 804(3), which are identical. First, the court considered Ex parte C.L.Y., 928 So.2d 1069 (Ala. 2005), wherein the Alabama Supreme Court held that statements by a child abuse victim that the abuser is a member or friend of the victim’s immediate household are reasonably pertinent to the treatment and admissible under Rule 804(3). Second, the appellate court considered United State v. Joe, 8 F.3d 1488 (10th Cir. 1993), wherein the Tenth Circuit held that that the “the identify of the abuser is reasonably pertinent to treatment in virtually every domestic sexual assault case, even those not involving children.” The Tenth Circuit found that a treating physician generally must know who the abuser was in order to render proper treatment because the physician’s treatment will necessarily differ when the abuser is a member of the victim’s household. Based on the Alabama Supreme Court’s rationale in Ex parte C.L.Y. and the Tenth Circuit’s rationale in United States v. Joe, the appellate court in Moore held that Ms. Kelly’s statements to the treating physician “concerning the cause of her injuries and the identity of the person who committed the injuries were admissible under Rule 803(4).”

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