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Ricketts v. Delaware

Delaware Supreme Court
488 A.2d 856 (1985)


Facts

Darrell Ricketts (defendant) was indicted for first-degree rape of a five-year-old girl, the daughter of a woman he was dating. At trial, the State of Delaware (State) (plaintiff) offered the testimony of the child victim who was then six years old. Before introducing the child victim’s testimony, the State conducted a voir dire. During voir dire, the child stated that she understood what a lie was, that telling a lie may result in getting a spanking and that it was a bad thing to tell a lie and she promised to tell the truth during her testimony. The court determined that the child witness did not understand the meaning of perjury but allowed her to testify because she met the only test for competency—understanding the difference between truth and falsehood. Ricketts was convicted and appealed his conviction, claiming that the trial court erred in allowing the testimony of the child victim because she was not competent to testify under Delaware Rules of Evidence (DRE) 601 and 603.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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