Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

03/31/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SCS HB 124(JUD) Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
Moved CSSB 54(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
          SB 117-RECORDED STATEMENTS OF CHILD VICTIMS                                                                       
9:26:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 117 to be up for consideration.                                                                
SENATOR  HOLLIS  FRENCH  moved  Version  \F  to  be  the  working                                                               
document  for the  committee. Hearing  no objections,  the motion                                                               
9:26:58 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH introduced  SB 117. Young victims of  crime do not                                                               
get  a  fair  shake  in  Alaska courtrooms.  SB  117  would  make                                                               
recorded  statements of  victims  under 16  admissible in  Alaska                                                               
courts if the statements were  conducted under certain conditions                                                               
and  if  the  victim  is   present  during  the  proceedings  and                                                               
available  for testimony.  Forensic interviews  are conducted  at                                                               
safe,  child friendly  environments.  Interviewers are  specially                                                               
trained to  work with children. Professionals  and advocates work                                                               
together  with the  safety of  the  children as  a top  priority.                                                               
Recorded statements are more useful  than court testimony because                                                               
children  are intimidated  by  formal  questioning in  unfamiliar                                                               
9:28:54 AM                                                                                                                    
Advocacy  centers  allow  children  to slowly  tell  their  story                                                               
without pressure in a nurturing and non-threatening setting.                                                                    
9:31:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  added SB 117  allows the  jury to see  the entire                                                               
story  while  preserving  the  cross   examining  rights  of  the                                                               
9:32:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT asked Senator  French to  affirm current                                                               
law considers a taped statement to be hearsay.                                                                                  
SENATOR FRENCH confirmed. The law  prefers to have live testimony                                                               
on the stand.                                                                                                                   
9:33:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  commented  Child Advocacy  Centers  are  not                                                               
available across the state.                                                                                                     
SENATOR FRENCH agreed.                                                                                                          
9:35:23 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GRETCHEN  GUESS asked whether  the child must  be present                                                               
during the entire court proceeding.                                                                                             
SENATOR  FRENCH  answered  the   crucial  aspect  is  for  cross-                                                               
examination purposes.                                                                                                           
MS. CARPENETI  interjected a child  would not have to  be present                                                               
for the entire trial.                                                                                                           
9:37:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  Ms. Carpeneti  whether  courts  allow                                                               
closed circuit television (CCTV) to be used.                                                                                    
MS.  CARPENETI responded  yes,  it  is live  and  the witness  is                                                               
present in the next room, so the testimony is allowed.                                                                          
CHAIR  SEEKINS  commented  "available  to  testify"  is  an  all-                                                               
inclusive term.                                                                                                                 
MS. CARPENETI agreed.                                                                                                           
SENATOR THERRIAULT  asked whether  the child  could be  forced to                                                               
endure a second interview.                                                                                                      
9:39:01 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CARPENETI  said the intent  of SB 117  is simply to  have the                                                               
child available to testify.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  SEEKINS  believed  the  recording   would  be  the  direct                                                               
testimony of the  child. The child's presence  would be necessary                                                               
in order to expand on the taped testimony.                                                                                      
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  expressed  the  need for  the  committee  to                                                               
clarify that intent.                                                                                                            
MS. CARPENETI asserted SB 117 was written clearly as is.                                                                        
9:41:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT said he was  concerned that a defense attorney                                                               
could force a child on the stand to restate the statement.                                                                      
MS. CARPENETI countered you have to allow that to happen.                                                                       
SENATOR THERRIAULT  agreed but asked  whether the  allegation has                                                               
to be made on the stand.                                                                                                        
SENATOR FRENCH iterated that is not the intent of SB 117.                                                                       
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  the  testimony would  be  in  the  recorded                                                               
statement.  He  didn't  believe  the child  would  be  forced  to                                                               
restate the allegation but would be forced to answer questions.                                                                 
SENATOR FRENCH  said the cross  examination would lead  the child                                                               
back through every relevant sentence of the recorded statement.                                                                 
9:43:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  agreed with Senator Therriault  the state wouldn't                                                               
want  to force  a  child  to have  to  reiterate the  allegations                                                               
already on the tape.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  the defense  attorney would  be looking                                                               
for inconsistency.                                                                                                              
9:44:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT proposed  Amendment  1: Page  1,  line 12  be                                                               
reworded to  say, "the  victim is present  at the  proceeding and                                                               
available  for  cross  examination." Hearing  no  objection,  the                                                               
motion carried.                                                                                                                 
9:46:07 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS  proposed Amendment 2:  Page 1, line 12  strike the                                                               
words  "present at  the proceeding."  Hearing  no objection,  the                                                               
motion carried.                                                                                                                 
9:55:06 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  proposed Amendment  3: Page 2,  line 9  after the                                                               
word "has"  add the words  "had an opportunity to..."  Hearing no                                                               
objection, the motion carried.                                                                                                  
9:56:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SERGEANT DAVE  PARKER, Anchorage Police Department,  testified in                                                               
support of  SB 117.  Children face long  delays getting  to court                                                               
and their  memories fade.  It is frustrating  for a  detective to                                                               
see a children's  testimony nullified or disrupted.  SB 117 would                                                               
allow the videotaped interview to speak for the child.                                                                          
9:59:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH asked Sgt. Parker to describe his training.                                                                      
SERGEANT  PARKER  said  he  is  a  certified  trainer  for  child                                                               
forensic  interviewing.  It is  a  three-day  course designed  to                                                               
train investigators to keep from  leading or introducing ideas to                                                               
the child,  which might taint testimony.  The training interviews                                                               
are  watched simultaneously  by a  psychologist or  social worker                                                               
who then gives feedback.                                                                                                        
10:01:46 AM                                                                                                                   
Training  also   deals  with  vocabulary  and   how  to  approach                                                               
10:02:12 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH  asked Sgt.  Parker to describe  the use  of dolls                                                               
during the interview.                                                                                                           
SERGEANT  PARKER  explained  there   are  a  variety  of  options                                                               
available to use  during the interviews. A  child's vocabulary is                                                               
sometimes very  limited. Interviewers  are trained to  study body                                                               
language  and  other  means  expression. A  lot  of  the  child's                                                               
communication  ability is  non-verbal. Video  captures this  body                                                               
language,  as  a  written   transcript  would  not.  Anatomically                                                               
correct dolls are used when children lack the vocabulary.                                                                       
10:04:08 AM                                                                                                                   
A jury  cannot get a clear  picture of what happened  unless they                                                               
are  allowed  to see  how  the  child  responds to  the  forensic                                                               
interview.  SB 117  gives the  weakest members  of society  their                                                               
opportunity to explain what happened.                                                                                           
10:05:33 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH  asked Sgt.  Parker the  number of  child advocacy                                                               
centers in Alaska.                                                                                                              
SERGEANT PARKER responded they operate  in Anchorage, Mat-Su, and                                                               
10:07:33 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked whether it is  normal for a male  officer to                                                               
question a female child.                                                                                                        
SERGEANT PARKER advised  yes. They have found  that children tend                                                               
to  open  up to  adults  both  male  and female.  Generally  they                                                               
determine  ahead  of time  who  is  best  suited to  perform  the                                                               
10:11:32 AM                                                                                                                   
DETECTIVE   KEVIN   VANDEGRIFF,  Anchorage   Police   Department,                                                               
testified in support of SB  117. Ninety percent of investigations                                                               
involve  sexual abuse  of a  minor.  One critical  aspect is  the                                                               
forensic interview.  They are trained to  ask open-ended question                                                               
designed to  gather information from  child. Training is  done so                                                               
interviews  stand judicial  scrutiny. Children  do not  verbalize                                                               
like adults  and are often  unable to describe what  has occurred                                                               
verbally but they share by demonstration what has occurred.                                                                     
10:14:16 AM                                                                                                                   
DETECTIVE VANDEGRIFF explained  often a jury does not  get to see                                                               
or hear  what has happened  to the child.  They see the  child on                                                               
the stand unable to verbalize what happened.                                                                                    
10:15:49 AM                                                                                                                   
Forty   other  states   have  legislation   authorizing  forensic                                                               
interviewing to be permissible in court proceedings.                                                                            
10:17:10 AM                                                                                                                   
AMY KOBALINSKI, family care coordinator, Alaska Care, testified                                                                 
in support of SB 117. Children are prone to use body language to                                                                
demonstrate what happened to them rather than verbalize.                                                                        
10:19:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS held SB 117 in committee.                                                                                         

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