Evans v. State

In Evans v. State, 645 P.2d 155 (Alaska 1982), the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that a trial judge acted properly when the judge prevented a psychiatrist from testifying about the portion of an evaluative interview in which a murder defendant claimed to have no memory of the crime. The trial judge excluded this testimony because the defendant's statements were hearsay (i.e., they were otherwise inadmissible) and because, if the psychiatrist was allowed to give the proposed testimony, the defendant's version of events would be presented to the jury entirely through hearsay testimony. (Evans, 645 P.2d at 158, 161.) Even though the current Alaska Rules of Evidence had not yet taken effect at the time of Evans's trial, the supreme court noted that Evidence Rule 705(c) gives trial judges the authority to exclude this type of expert testimony if it appears that the jury will use the testimony for an improper purpose. The supreme court concluded that, in Evans's case, the trial judge "could reasonably have concluded that the defendant's out-of-court statements would have been used for an improper purpose -- i.e., to prove the truth of what was said." Thus, the supreme court ruled, "the superior court did not commit error in excluding the psychiatrist's proposed testimony concerning the questioned statements."