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NCJ Number: 162888 Find in a Library
Title: Judicial Perceptions of Child Witness Competence
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:20  Issue:3  Dated:(June 1996)  Pages:313-334
Author(s): J Cashmore; K Bussey
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Research Council
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Fifty magistrates and judges in New South Wales, Australia, were asked by means of interview or questionnaire about their beliefs, concerns, and practices related to child witnesses.
Abstract: Concern about the difficulties faced by child witnesses in the legal system has led to two major areas of reform: the relaxation of competence and corroboration requirements and the introduction of special procedures and physical facilities to reduce the emotional pressures of testifying. Although the implementation of these measures depends largely on judicial discretion, little is known about judicial perceptions of child witnesses and about judicial acceptance of these measures. This study found considerable variance in judges' views about the competence of child witnesses and the need for special protective measures in court for these witnesses. There was, however, more consensus about those aspects of children's ability to testify that give rise to judicial concerns about their competence. Children's honesty was not at issue; they were generally regarded as being at least as honest as adults, if not more so. They were, however, perceived as highly suggestible and susceptible to the influence of others and prone to fantasy. These findings are consistent with the findings of other studies, and they provide a basis for judicial education in relation to child witnesses. 1 table and 51 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile witnesses
Index Term(s): Competency to testify; Foreign courts; Judicial attitudes; New South Wales
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