State of Utah v. Travis Dee Timmermann
FACTS: In the early morning of June 30, 2007, the Timmeran’s neighbor heard a woman screaming “stop it!” and “help me!” Around 7:00 am, the neighbor notified the police. Officer Mclelland asked Mrs. Timmeran to fill out a witness statement. In her three page statement, Mrs. Timmeran wrote that Mr. Timmeran repeatedly to hit her and force her to have intercourse. Another police officer asked her to submit to a sexual assault examination at the hospital. At the preliminary hearing, Mrs. Timmeran invoked her spousal privilege not to testify against her husband. The State then introduced into evidence Mrs. Timmeran’s previous statements to the police and to a sexual assault nurse. Mr. Timmeran subsequently filed a motion to quash the bindover. The district court denied the motion. Mr. Timmerman now appeals the district court’s denial of this motion.
ISSUE: Does the admission of Mrs. Timmerman’s our-of-court statement inviolate Mr. Timmerman’s constitutional right or Mrs. Timmerman’s spousal testimonial privilege?
REASONING: The constitutional spousal testimonial privilege applies only to compelled, in-court testimony. The introduction of Mrs. Timmerman’s statement into evidence at the preliminary hearing did not violate her spousal testimonial privilege, which protects a spouse from giving involuntary, in-court statement. Mrs. Timmerman was not forced to testify at the preliminary hearing. Further, Mrs. Timmerman made those statements voluntarily. She was not forced to attend a sexual assault examination or write a witness statement. Blocking her statement from admission into evidence at the preliminary hearing would promote excluding relevant evidence more than it would promote marital harmony. Furthermore, Mrs.Timmerman was not placed in a position where she had to choose either to perjure herself of harm her husband because she was not forced to testify in court.
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