Submitted May 14, 2014.
Revised: September 8, 2014.
Case Closed July 31, 2014.
Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County. Cr. I.D. No. 1303015680.
Nicole M. Walker, Esquire (argued), Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellant.
Karen V. Sullivan, Esquire (argued), Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, for Appellee.
Before HOLLAND, BERGER and RIDGELY, Justices.
In this appeal we consider whether Family Court records may be used in the Superior Court to prove that appellant committed the offense of interference with custody. The disputed records include the Family Court's factual findings about appellant's conduct in the custody dispute that led to the criminal charges. The trial court admitted the records, without regard to their content, because they were certified court documents. We hold that, without redaction, the Family Court records were inadmissible because they include hearsay. Accordingly, we reverse.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Christina Ozdemir and Douglas Riley began a relationship in 2005. Ozdemir was living in New York at the time, but she moved to Delaware to live with Riley shortly after they began seeing each other. The couple had a son in 2007 and a daughter in early 2009. In June 2009, Ozdemir told Riley that she was going to New York for two weeks with the children. She and the children never returned. Riley filed a petition for custody in Delaware. In response, Ozdemir filed petitions for custody and for a protective order in New York. In November 2009, the Delaware Family Court and the New York court held a telephonic joint hearing, during which Ozdemir and Riley were present. The courts determined that Delaware had jurisdiction over the custody matter. Following the joint hearing, the Family Court entered an interim custody order awarding Ozdemir sole legal custody and primary residency of the children. Riley was given limited visitation rights. Ozdemir failed to bring the children to some of the scheduled visits, and the Family Court found her in contempt.
In October 2010, the Family Court entered a temporary custody order awarding Ozdemir and Riley joint legal custody and shared residency on an alternating monthly basis. The trial court held a review hearing in April 2011, but Ozdemir failed
to attend. At the review hearing, the Family Court entered another order (" the April 2011 Order" ), awarding Riley sole legal custody and primary residency of the children. Riley attempted to enforce the April 2011 Order in ...