State v. Judkins, 57758

Citation242 N.W.2d 266
Decision Date19 May 1976
Docket NumberNo. 57758,57758
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. William E. JUDKINS, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

Glenn E. Pille, Des Moines, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Michael W. Coriden, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Ray A. Fenton, County Atty., for appellee.


MOORE, Chief Justice.

On this appeal from conviction of forgery in violation of Code section 718.1 defendant asserts trial court erred in (1) allowing the State's handwriting expert to testify that defendant's expert confirmed his opinion and (2) refusing to prohibit testimony from proferred character witnesses in regard to defendant's prior felony conviction. We reverse on the first ground.

I. As it relates to the first issue raised by defendant the record discloses State's handwriting expert, Duane L. Barton, testified regarding his comparison of handwriting samples presented to him for analysis. He opined the signature on exhibit 1, the forged check, was written by the same person who wrote exhibits 4 and 5, handwriting samples by defendant. Cross-examination by defense counsel included:

'Q. Did you cross-check your opinion?

'A. I don't know for sure what you mean.

'Q. Any person in your laboratory, and assistants?

'A. I have none.'

On redirect the State, over defendant's hearsay and violation of attorney-client privilege objections, was permitted to elicit from Barton testimony that his opinion had been confirmed by M. D. Huffman, a handwriting expert employed by defense counsel. In overruling defendant's objections trial court expressed the view cross-examination had 'opened up the area.' The trial court apparently thought the doctrine of curative admissibility was applicable.

Under that doctrine, when one party introduces inadmissible evidence, with or without objection, the trial court has discretion to allow the adversary to offer otherwise inadmissible evidence on the same subject when it is fairly responsive. Vine Street Corporation v. City of Council Bluffs, Iowa, 220 N.W.2d 860, 864; State v. Williams, Iowa, 171 N.W.2d 521, 529 and citations in each. See also 81 Am.Jur.2d, Witnesses, section 425, page 435; 98 C.J.S., Witnesses, § 419b, page 221.

However, the trial court erred as defendant on cross-examination did not introduce inadmissible evidence regarding an opinion on handwriting. The most that can be gleaned from Barton's testimony is that there was no other person in the state laboratory with whom he could cross-check his opinion.

II. Thus the hearsay objection issue is squarely presented. 'Hearsay' is a statement, other than one made by declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. State v. Rush, Iowa, 242 N.W.2d 313; State v. Kidd, Iowa, 239 N.W.2d 860, 864; Tonini v. Maloney, Iowa, 228 N.W.2d 91, 93; State v. Miller, Iowa, 204 N.W.2d 834, 840.

Ordinarily hearsay consists of repetition of an out-of-court statement made by another. Here the State was permitted to submit 'indirect' or 'obscured' hearsay.

In McCormick on Evidence, (Second Ed.), section 249, pages 593, 594, the author writes:

'If the apparent purpose of offered testimony is to use an out-of-court statement to evidence the truth of facts stated therein, the hearsay objection cannot be obviated by eliciting the purport of the statements in indirect form. Thus evidence as to the purport of 'information received' by the witness, or a statement of the results of investigation made by other persons, offered as evidence of the facts asserted out of court, have been held to be hearsay. * * *.'

See also Falknor, Indirect Hearsay, 31 Tul.L.Rev. 3.

Case authority demonstrates Barton's testimony that his opinion had been confirmed by Huffman was indirect or obscured hearsay.

In Cornish v. The C.B. & Q.R. Co., 49 Iowa 378, we affirmed the trial court's hearsay ruling that an engineer may not testify that other engineers viewing the same waterway expressed an opinion consistent with his own.

In Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company v. Pumphrey, Ark., 510 S.W.2d 570, a reversal was ordered where defendant was allowed to elicit testimony from a treating doctor that the specialist's opinion 'was not inconsistent' with the doctor's own testimony. At page 571, the court states:

'* * *. Unquestionably it would be hearsay had the witness attempted to testify that, based upon what the specialist told him, the specialist's report was not inconsistent with his own. We are constrained to hold that the approach allowed at trial is impermissible inasmuch as it was doing indirectly what could not be done directly, i.e., a circumvention of the hearsay evidence rule. * * *.'

In Collins v. Langan, 58 N.J.L. 6, 32 A. 258, one of plaintiff's experts had died prior to trial. A surviving expert was allowed to testify the deceased expert had concurred in his evaluation of plaintiff's damages. The court said:

'* * *. The views expressed by the deceased expert were plainly incompetent. * * *. What he said, therefore, was the purest hearsay. It is impossible to sustain a judgment founded in part on such illegal testimony.' Page 258, 32A.

In Village of Ponca v. Crawford, 18 Neb. 551, 26 N.W. 365, a doctor was allowed to state a group of examining physicians had 'decided that (the tumor) was the result of an injury.' The court concluded the statement was 'simple hearsay' and at page 368, 26 N.W. stated:

'* * *. We know of no rule by which the testimony or opinions of expert witnesses may be produced in evidence, save by the usual methods of taking their testimony * * *.'

In Whitfield v. Roth, 10 Cal.3d 874, 112 Cal.Rptr. 540, 554--55, 519 P.2d 588, 602--03, the court held a doctor's testimony that 50 doctors had looked at the X-ray and found no abnormality was hearsay.

Where a doctor testified 'we felt' the plaintiff's condition was primarily psychiatric, the court in Patterson v. Kroger Company, 54 Tenn.App. 243, 389 S.W.2d 283, 289, stated:

'* * *. The use of the pronoun 'we'...

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  • Barrett v. Acevedo, s. 96-2699
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 9 Marzo 1999
    ...other experts also subscribed to the expert's stated conclusions. Id. The court emphasized that Rule 703 did not overrule State v. Judkins, 242 N.W.2d 266 (Iowa 1976), and did not empower one expert witness to state other experts also subscribed to the witness's stated conclusion. Id. It re......
  • State v. McKettrick, 90-1836
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 22 Enero 1992
    ...established. State v. Farris, 359 N.W.2d 190, 193 (Iowa 1984); State v. Nims, 357 N.W.2d 608, 609 (Iowa 1984); State v. Judkins, 242 N.W.2d 266, 268 (Iowa 1976). We have stated, however, that prejudice will not be found where substantially the same evidence is in the record without objectio......
  • State v. Gomez, 20660
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • 21 Diciembre 1994
    ...S. BROUN et al., McCORMICK ON EVIDENCE § 249 at 104-105 (John W. Strong ed., 4th ed. 1992) [hereinafter McCORMICK]; State v. Judkins, 242 N.W.2d 266 (Iowa 1976); Commonwealth v. Parks, 273 Pa.Super. 506, 417 A.2d 1163 (1979); Schaffer v. State, 777 S.W.2d 111 Not all out-of-court statements......
  • State v. Webb, 65028
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 26 Agosto 1981 affirmatively established. State v. Galvan, 297 N.W.2d 344, 348 (Iowa 1980); State v. Horn, 282 N.W.2d at 724; State v. Judkins, 242 N.W.2d 266, 268 (Iowa 1976). In State v. Johnson, 272 N.W.2d 480, 482-83 (Iowa 1978), however, we held that the erroneous admission of hearsay evidence was......
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