Terri Horman Must Show For Depositon, But Does Need Not Testify

Posted on Oct 10, 2013

Anyone living in Oregon knows about the tragic case of Kryon Horman, who is still missing since June 2010 after he was dropped off at Skyline School in Portland, Oregon. Kryon's disappearance is still under criminal investigation, and no charges have been filed.

However, the Kaine Horman and Terri Moulton divorce case is slowly moving through the courts, and a civil claim Kryons' mother filed against stepmother Terri Horman alleging a kidnapping was put on hold, and eventually dropped.  These cases arise from the same tragic events, but technically, they are each distinct, with unique issues.  Each case, however, impacts the other, and the recent ruling in the divorce case is the latest example.

The civil case Kryon's mother, Desiree Young, filed against Terri Moulton sought civil, not criminal remedies.  The claim sought money damages, as well as disclosure of Terri Horman’s knowledge about Kryon’s disappearance.  The Judge ruled that the suit would have to be suspended due to the pending divorce and criminal investigation. In July, Kryon's mother opted to dismiss the suit so that the criminal investigation could go forward.

The criminal investigation is also affecting the divorce case.

The Judge overseeing the divorce case recently ruled that Terri Moulton had to appear for a deposition, but may not have to answer questions. The Judge recognized that Terri Moulton may be asked questions that could incriminate her, and because of her constitutional right against self incrimination, would not have to answer such questions.

A deposition is a pretrial procedure that allows an attorney to question the opposing party or any witness under oath. A court reporter is present, and if the testimony is relevant, it could be read to a jury or a judge in a trial or other court hearing. Depositions are common in many civil cases, including personal injury claims, divorces, or probate disputes. Generally, an attorney can question the witness about anything that is reasonably calculated to lead to relevant information. This gives the attorney authority to delve into a broad scope of topics, especially if somebody’s health history is at issue.   

Even when someone has the right to invoke their 5th Amendment right, there may be questions that could not possibly lead to self-incrimination, and Ms. Horman may be forced to respond to this questions. If the attorneys present at the deposition disagree on whether not the right against self-incrimination applies, one or both attorneys can contact the court, and seek a ruling in the middle of the deposition. This this does not happen often, but given the unusual nature of this case, court intervention is inevitable.

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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