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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 118848 Find in a Library
Title: Putting Children on the Stand
Journal: Trial  Volume:25  Issue:8  Dated:(August 1989)  Pages:30-32,34-35
Author(s): K H Federle
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 5
Type: Training (Aid/Material)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article guides attorneys in interviewing and preparing child witnesses for trial testimony.
Abstract: Preparing child witnesses for testimony must above all build confidence in the child, since such confidence enhances the child's credibility in the eyes of the jurors. A child's confidence is nurtured in the development of a relationship of trust with the attorney. Particularly important for the development of this trust is a nonjudgmental, relaxed attitude toward the child. Lawyers must listen to what a child is saying and indicate verbally or with nonverbal cues that they understand the child. In communicating with the child, lawyers must use language intelligible to the child. A practical guideline is to contact the parents as soon as possible to inform them about what to expect in the interview, so they may help prepare their child. The setting for the first meeting should ideally be a neutral place that may accommodate active younger children and not insult older children. The first interview should begin with a brief explanation about the attorney's role and the attorney's relationship with the child as witness. The next step is to engage the child in general conversation about the child's interests and activities. The lawyer must be careful not to control the conversation. Several meetings may be required before the child is willing to discuss the events at issue in the trial. Questions put to the child should not be accusatory nor suggestive of an answer. Preparation for trial should simulate direct examination in the courtroom without dealing with the precise content of answers. Cross-examination may be simulated if the child is deemed secure enough to cope with it. 21 notes.
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Attorneys; Interview and interrogation; Trial preparation
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