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NCJ Number: 67717 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: JUVENILE WITNESS IN CRIMINAL TRIALS - STANDARDS FOR DETERMINING COMPETENCY AND THE APPLICABILITY OF THE TRADITIONAL OATH
Journal: CRIMINAL JUSTICE QUARTERLY  Volume:7  Issue:1  Dated:(SPRING/SUMMER 1979)  Pages:17-27
Author(s): C M HENDERSON
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW JERSEY LAW ON THE ISSUE OF JUVENILE WITNESSES IS EXAMINED AND AN ANALYSIS PRESENTED OF TWO RECENT DECISIONS OF THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT ADDRESSING THE ISSUE.
Abstract: THE PROBLEM OF THE INFANT WITNESS IS ONE THAT HAS PLAGUED COURTS FOR GENERATIONS. IF WITNESSES ARE EXCLUDED BECAUSE OF THEIR AGE, MANY OFFENSES COMMITTED AGAINST CHILDREN WOULD GO UNPUNISHED SINCE THE COURTS WOULD BE PREVENTED FROM HEARING INVALUABLE INFORMATION. UNDER THE AGE OF 14, CHILD WITNESSES ARE ADMITTED ONLY IF THEY ARE ADJUDGED BY A TRIAL COURT TO POSSESS THE REQUISITE MENTAL CAPACITY AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT DECISIONS IN THE CASE OF STATE V. GROSSMICK AND STATE IN THE INTEREST OF R. R. ARE SEEN AS INDICATIVE OF THE GROWING TREND IN THE LAW FAVORING THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE AREA OF WITNESS COMPETENCY. THE OPINIONS RECOGNIZE THE RIGHT OF INFANTS TO TESTIFY IN CRIMINAL CASES AND ESTABLISH STANDARDS THAT PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF BOTH THE WITNESS AND THE DEFENDANT. WHILE THE CHILD'S COMPETENCY MUST STILL BE DETERMINED BEFORE TESTIFYING, THE LAW CLEARLY DELINEATES THE CRITERIA WHICH A JUDGE MUST CONSIDER IN MAKING A DECISION. THE ABOLITION OF THE TRADITIONAL OATH FOR INFANT WITNESSES PROVIDES THE TRIAL JUDGE WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO ADMINISTER AN OATH WHICH THE CHILD UNDERSTANDS AND TO IMPRESS UPON THE CHILD THE SERIOUS NATURE OF THE OBLIGATION HE UNDERTAKES. THE LIMITED USE OF INTERPRETERS ALSO ASSISTS JUDGES BY PROVIDING INFORMATION WHICH OTHERWISE MAY HAVE BEEN INADMISSIBLE. AS A RESULT OF THESE DECISIONS, CHILDREN WILL BE ABLE TO TESTIFY MORE FREELY IN BOTH CRIMINAL AND CIVIL CASES IN NEW JERSEY, AND WILL BE ABLE TO PROTECT THEIR INTERESTS AND ASSIST THE COURT IN ITS QUEST FOR THE TRUTH. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED.
Index Term(s): Judicial decisions; Juveniles; New Jersey; Rules of evidence; State courts; State laws; State supreme courts; Testimony; Witnesses
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67717

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