Government of the Virgin Islands v. Archibald (987 F.2d 180)

Government of the Virgin Islands v. Archibald
987 F.2d 180 (3rd Cir. 1993)

Facts: Archibald (D) was accused of statutory rape. During his trial, the prosecution asked the the victim’s mother how she new the defendant. She replied that he was the father of her other daughter’s child. The prosecution followed up by asking how old the other daughter was, she replied that she was 15 years old (which implied that Archibald statutorily raped her as well). The prosecution then requested a sidebar and requested that the judge instruct the jury to only her consider the mother’s testimony as to how she knew the defendant. The defense then objected on grounds of FRE rule 404(b) and undue prejudice. The judge dismissed the objection and admitted the testimony. Archibald was convicted and appealed claiming the court committed reversible error in admitting evidence of prior criminal conduct.

Issue:Did the trial court err in admitting the mother’s testimony of a prior criminal act?

Holding and Decision:Yes. Generally, the appropriate time for an objection is as soon as the party knows, or reasonably should know, of the grounds for objection. However, in this case the defense’s objection was timely since it caused no demonstrable prejudice. Even if the court was correct in allowing the testimony, it should have excluded it under FRE rule 403 because it was prejudicial.

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