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NCJ Number: 156730 Find in a Library
Title: Constitutional Challenges to Child Witness Protection Legislation: An Update
Journal: Violence and Victims  Volume:9  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1994)  Pages:369-377
Author(s): M A Small
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 9
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the current status of child witness protection legislation in the context of recent litigation, focusing on Illinois.
Abstract: States have passed a number of laws to make legal proceedings less traumatic for children. Specifically, State legislatures have enacted laws to protect children who might suffer emotional distress as a result of directly confronting defendants in criminal trials. These laws typically provide for a physical separation of the child witness and the defendant so that the child does not actually face the defendant in the courtroom, although it is still possible for the judge or jury to view the child during the oath, testimony, and cross-examination. A critical legal issue presented by such procedures is whether they violate a defendant's Federal right under the sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for the right to confront adverse witnesses or a defendant's corresponding State constitutional right to confrontation. Following the lead of other States, Illinois passed a child witness protection statute that in part provided that in a child sexual abuse case, the trial court may order that the child's oral statement or testimony be recorded on videotape. In Maryland v. Craig (1990), the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Federal sixth amendment as not being violated by Maryland's statute that allows the use of one-way closed-circuit television, but it is far from settled how each State will eventually reconcile possible State constitutional conflicts. Thus far, the confrontation clauses found in State constitutions have provided the most often used means to challenge child witness protection legislation. When presented with this issue, the majority of courts have upheld child witness protection legislation against State constitutional confrontational challenges. In those States where the defendants have been successful, there has been specific language in the State confrontation clause that grants defendants a face-to-face confrontation. 22 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Child protection laws; Illinois; US Supreme Court decisions
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