United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
127 F.3d 1292 (10th Cir. 1997)
Allen J. (defendant) was charged in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico with the sexual assault of a minor victim. At trial, the prosecution called the victim, who was 13 years old, to testify. Allen J. objected to the victim’s testimony, claiming that the victim suffered from mild mental retardation and thus was not competent to testify. Before asking substantive questions, the prosecution asked the victim a number of introductory questions about the truth generally, as well as about the oath she took, including: (1) whether she understood that she had promised to tell the truth, (2) whether she knew the difference between the truth and a lie, and (3) whether she knew that she would be punished if she told a lie in court. The victim answered each of these questions affirmatively. The district judge then permitted the victim to testify without a competency hearing. However, during her testimony, the victim had difficulty answering some questions. The victim also gave incorrect answers to other questions, including her own age. Allen J. was convicted by the district court, and he appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brorby, J.)
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