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Creating Uniformity for Child Testimony Given Through Alternative Methods: Enabling States to Effectively Protect Their Children

NCJ Number
Children's Legal Rights Journal Volume: 23 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2003 Pages: 17-30
Cynthia Baasten
Date Published
14 pages
This article examines issues related to children providing court testimony through alternative forms.
The sixth amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that defendant’s have the right to confront their accusers; this usually means that accusers must provide court testimony in the presence of the defendant. However, in cases in which children are the alleged victims, potential harm comes to the child when forced to testify against the defendant in a court of law. This article first discusses the trauma associated with child testimony and then reviews the precedential history of testimony provided through alternative methods. It then explores the lack of uniformity in the procedural requirements of States when alternative methods of testimony are sought. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws’ (NCCUSL) has proposed an act that will provide standardized procedures for determining the permissibility of alternative methods; the article outlines this proposal and analyzes it in light of current child testimony statutes and case law. The article concludes by offering specific recommendations for adopting the NCCUSL act. 148 Endnotes