Expert Article Library

Improper Techniques Used in Interviewing Children

Case Name: United States v. Granbois, 119 Fed. Appx. 35 (Unpublished)

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

Date: July 22, 2004

Expert: Interviewing. Abuse. Dr. Waterman

Issues: Whether the district court erred in (1) allowing the government to present evidence of other sex crimes he committed against minors, (2) improperly limiting the scope of appellant’s expert witness's testimony, (3) providing the jury with an elements instruction referring to the minor as a "victim," and (4) denying appellant’s motions for acquittal under Fed. R. Crim. P. 29 and motion for a new trial under Fed. R. Crim. P. 33.

Summary of case: Defendant was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a minor in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. §§ 1153 and 2241.

Role of the expert: Dr. Waterman's testified that research has determined that children can be misled and confused by improper interviewing techniques and that the proper guidelines for interviewing children should be followed to prevent false memory.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The district court limited the scope of Dr. Waterman’s testimony, refusing to allow him to testify as to the qualifications a person should have before interviewing a potential victim of child sex abuse and excluding his testimony regarding the specific interview techniques used in the case. The appellate court found that the trial court did not err in admitting the evidence of prior convictions, as the evidence was not unduly prejudicial and showed defendant's pattern of conduct. It also found that the trial court permissibly limited the scope of the expert's testimony, that the jury instruction did not undermine the presumption of innocence, and that no error occurred in denying appellant’s motions for acquittal or for a new trial.

Summary prepared by W. McLennan, Student, U.C. Hastings College of the Law