Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crying not protected by spousal immunity in North Carolina

Tom Hanks famously said in the movie A League of Their Own, "there is no crying in baseball." But apparently in North Carolina their is crying in court and that crying can lead to 20-25 years in prison.  The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently ruled that crying isn't protected by confidential communication between spouses--spousal immunity--according to The Associated Press.
The case involves alleged serial rapist Lesiba Simon Matsoake, a South African man who appealed his conviction in the rape of a woman on a Kill Devil Hills beach in June 2003. His now ex-wife, Ruth Hart, testified that she first became suspicious of her husband when he started crying while looking at a composite sketch of the attacker, presumably a drawing that looked similar to him.
Shortly after the rape, Matsoake and Hart were traveling from their home in Point Harbor, North Carolina, to a doctor's appointment in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Hart was driving. Matsoake was sitting in the passenger seat reading the paper.
"I heard like water, I heard a tear drop hit the paper and I looked over and (the defendant) was crying," she said at trial, over the objection of Matsoake's attorneys.
Before Hart's testimony, Matsoake's defense attorney argued that the crying was a communication and that the defendant was making "some sort of tacit admission to some sort of involvement" in the attack, which was a "form of nonverbal communication (that) shouldn't be allowed."
The Court of Appeals noted that the North Carolina Supreme Court has held that either spouse can prevent the other from testifying to a confidential communication. But the appeals court agreed with the trial court that spoken words, not crying, are a protected communication.
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