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Government of the Virgin Islands v. Archibald

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
987 F.2d 180 (3d Cir. 1993)


(1) Alan Archibald (defendant) was charged with three counts of aggravated rape of Latoya Chinnery (Latoya), a minor, by the Government of the Virgin Islands (plaintiff). At trial, the prosecution asked Latoya’s mother, Ursula Williams, how she knew Archibald. Williams responded by saying that Archibald was her neighbor and that he had fathered a child with Williams’ other daughter, Tasha. Williams also testified that the child was six months old at the time of trial and that Tasha was 15, meaning that the child was conceived when Tasha was thirteen or fourteen years old—an act that constituted statutory rape. A sidebar was requested immediately after Williams’ response. Archibald’s counsel objected to the testimony based on Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which says that evidence of other crimes or acts of the defendant is not admissible to prove that the defendant acted in conformity with those acts in the current instance. The district court overruled the objection, but gave the jury a limiting instruction on the testimony. (2) On cross-examination of Williams, Archibald asked if Williams had ever seen Archibald and Latoya alone together or “overheard any conversations with Latoya and [Tasha] concerning Mr. Archibald.” Williams answered no. On redirect examination, Williams testified that Tasha had told Williams that Archibald and Latoya “were kissing while dancing at a party.” Archibald objected to this testimony on hearsay grounds, but the district court ruled that Archibald had “opened the door” by asking Williams these questions. The jury convicted Archibald. He appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cowen, J.)

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