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NJ Supreme Court Affirms Neglect Finding Based on “Invited Error”


by in Civil Appeals

DYFS v. M.C., III/ Matter of M.C. IV and N.C., ? N.J. ?, 2010 N.J. LEXIS (March 31, 2010) – Order finding abuse and neglect affirmed by the NJ Supreme Court.

The Appellate Division found plain error in the admission of documentary evidence and the use of hearsay contained within the documents…. However, the NJ Supreme Court found that consistent with the doctrine of invited error, on appeal, the father may not protest the admission of the documents after he agreed to their admission at trial….

The record is clear that defendant consented to the admission of the relevant documents. Indeed, the one document that defendant objected to, P-1, was not admitted into evidence. Importantly, by consenting to the admission of the documents, defendant deprived the Division of the opportunity to overcome any objection and deprived the trial court of the necessity to make a ruling based on the arguments presented by both sides. That is, if defense counsel had objected to the Screening Summary and other documents, and the trial court agreed with those objections, the Division could have taken steps to satisfy any evidentiary requirements needed for the admission of the documents or presented a witness or witnesses in place of the documents….

Under those circumstances, we hold that defendant is barred by the doctrine of invited error from contesting for the first time on appeal the admission of the various documents. Thus, we find no reversible error in the trial court’s consideration of those documents in reaching its conclusions.” See also EVIDENCE. (James A. Louis, D.P.D., Law Guardian; Beatrix W. Shear, D.P.D., for M.C., III)

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