S.D. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 6992649 (Fla. 3rd DCA)


Father appealed termination of his parental rights based on his lack of consent to a witness testifying by Skype, the failure of a notary to administer the oath prior to the witness’s testimony and violation of his right to confront a witness. The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) affirmed.

Father’s adult daughter testified via Skype at trial. Father originally consented to his daughter testifying by telephone or Skyke but revoked his consent three days prior to trial. The trial court heard argument on the revocation of consent and determined Father failed to show good cause to revoke consent so close to trial, that he waived his right to object to her Skype testimony and that testimony via Skype protected his right to confrontation.

The Third DCA agreed with the trial court that Father waived his right to object to his daughter’s telephonic testimony. Citing to Somervell v. State, 883 So. 2d 836 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004), the Third DCA held that testimony by Skype meets the right to confront a witness because the witness is both visible and available for cross examination. As to the issue of the notary, the Department corrected this by reopening the case to swear in the witness.

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