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State v. Christian

841 A.2d 1158 (2004)

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State v. Christian

Connecticut Supreme Court

841 A.2d 1158 (2004)

Facts

Bruce Christian (defendant) and another person were traveling in the same car when they had an accident. The other person died, and Bruce was taken to the hospital. Bruce’s wife, Joan Christian, met with him alone in his hospital room. Bruce told Joan that he had been driving the car and made steering-wheel motions with his hands. Bruce was charged with manslaughter. Bruce’s defense was that he had been a passenger and the deceased person had been the driver. By the time of trial, Bruce and Joan had separated and were getting a divorce. Bruce moved to prevent Joan from testifying about anything he had told her, claiming that the marital-communications privilege prevented her from disclosing anything he had said to her confidentially while they were married. Joan told the trial court that their marriage had been rocky at the time of the accident and was now irreversibly broken. The trial court found that the marital-communications privilege did not apply because there was no longer a marital relationship to protect. Joan then testified about what Bruce had communicated to her in the hospital room. Three other witnesses also testified that Bruce had told them that he was driving at the time of the accident. Bruce was convicted and appealed. On appeal, Bruce argued that Joan’s testimony should have been excluded.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Katz, J.)

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