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NCJ Number: 72699 Find in a Library
Title: Lawyer and Social Worker as a Team - Preparing for trial in Neglect Cases
Journal: Child Welfare  Volume:59  Issue:8  Dated:(September/October 1980)  Pages:469-477
Author(s): J C Harris; B E Bernstein
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Suggestions on preparing evidence in child neglect proceedings are presented for social workers, with particular emphasis on the need for social workers to give vivid, explicit testimony.
Abstract: Child neglect is far more difficult to define than abuse, although it can be as damaging to the victim. Public attitudes are ambivalent toward intervention by social workers in neglect cases, and statutory grounds for separating the parent from the child because of neglect are vague. According to one research study, testimony based on llegally admissible evidence had the greatest impact on a judge's decision to remove a child from the home. Social workers must maintain complete, accurate, and objective records on each case inpreparation for cross-examinatin in court and objections based on hearsay evidence. To qualify as an expert witness, the social worker should assemble a full biographical vita. Because State attorneys handling neglect cases are often inexperienced and overworked, the social worker often bears the responsibility for trial jpreparation. Specific ways for social workers to facilitate effective presentation of evidence are suggested. The social worker should give evidence in a convincing manner so that the judge or jury will be impressed by the seriousness of the neglect situation and the necessity for intervention. Contrasting examples of ineffective testimony and graphic, persuasive testimony are presented for two situations: the observation of a serious diaper rash on neglected child and a description of a family scene involving emotional neglect. Only be working as a team can a lawyer ask the right questions and the social worker offer honest answers in expressive language that creates an emotionally charged word picture. Twelve references are provided.
Index Term(s): Child abuse and neglect hearings; Evidence; Juvenile dependency and neglect; Neglectful parents; Prosecutors; Social workers; Trial preparation
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