Thursday, February 01, 2018 - credibility - review by factfinder who did not hear/see the evidence

J.K. v. Dept. of Human Services – Cmwlth. Court – January 30, 2018

Generally, “[d]eterminations as to credibility and evidentiary weight will not be disturbed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion.” F.V.C. v. DPW, 987 A.2d 223, 228 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010). When the factfinder does not observe the testimony that is the basis of the evidence, a more thorough review of credibility determinations is required. See McElwee v. SEPTA, 948 A.2d 762, 774 n.10 (Pa. 2008). In McElwee, the Supreme Court stated that, “[t]he need for an articulated, reasoned basis for rejecting such testimony seems especially pronounced where, as here, the trial court did not observe witness demeanor but, instead, merely reviewed the deposition transcripts and documentary exhibits.” Id. A factfinder’s credibility determinations cannot be arbitrary. Id.