Sunday, December 22, 2013

State v. Moore case brief (Evidence)

State v. Moore case brief summary
902 A.2d 1212 (N.J. 2006)

Defendant's convictions of burglary, robbery, and aggravated sexual assault were reversed, and the State appealed. The Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey) ordered remand on the admissibility of hypnotically refreshed eyewitness testimony. The case was returned to the court to determine the continued viability of caselaw establishing the guidelines for such testimony proffered by a witness in a criminal trial.

The victim was sleeping in the bedroom of her home when a man woke her by grabbing her neck and demanding money. The man repeatedly sexually assaulted and threatened her, telling her not to look at him. At one point, the victim opened her eyes and looked up at the man. The witness underwent hypnosis and stated for the first time that she thought her assailant wore a suede jacket and was a medium-skinned black male. The victim indicated that, after hypnosis, she could remember the face of her assailant very clearly.


  • The trial court ruled that the hypnosis complied with the court's decision in State v. Hurd, 86 N.J. 525 (1981), and, therefore, permitted the testimony as refreshed recollection. 
  • The court also permitted the State to play a substantial portion of the recording of the hypnotic session for the jury. 
  • The court held that, since the time Hurd was decided, a change in course was warranted as the Hurd guidelines no longer served as an effective control for the harmful effects of hypnosis on the truth-seeking function that was at the heart of the justice system. 
  • The court was not convinced that it was possible to know whether post-hypnotic testimony was ever reliable.

The court affirmed the conclusion of the trial court that hypnotically refreshed testimony should be inadmissible. The case was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings.

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