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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 148853 Find in a Library
Title: Child Witness Statutes
Journal: Journal of Juvenile Law  Volume:14  Dated:(1993)  Pages:227-233
Author(s): S Gassner
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 7
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Child witness statutes are discussed.
Abstract: Experts recognize that great emotional trauma is created when children are obliged to testify about their own sexual abuse. In response, most States have enacted statutes that allow childhood victims of sexual abuse to testify via closed circuit television or videotape. This means of protecting the child abuse victim conflicts with the accused's Sixth Amendment right of confrontation. This note briefly discusses the holding in Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836 (1990), in which the U.S. Supreme Court directly addressed the tension between legislated state exceptions and the explicit meaning of the Confrontation Clause. The Court held that the Confrontation Clause creates a right to confront all witnesses appearing to give evidence at trial, a right that may be overridden to achieve important social objectives. Protecting young sex crime victims from further emotional trauma was determined to be a compelling objective sufficiently important to justify an exception to the requirement that a defendant's accuser testify in person. The Court held that the trial court must specifically find, in each case, that substantial emotional trauma would result from requiring the victim to testify in the presence of the defendant. In addition, this note outlines two cases decided subsequent to Maryland v. Craig to reveal the substantial procedural variations that exist among the States that allow children to testify using videotape or closed circuit television. The cases briefly outlined are State v. Schaal, 806 S.W.2d 659 (Mo., 1991), and Brady v. Indiana, 575 N.E.2d 9481 (Ind., 1991). Footnotes
Main Term(s): Child victims
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Courts; Juvenile witnesses; Juveniles
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