Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
03/31/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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 carried. 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 surroundings. 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 accused. 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 children. 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 Fairbanks. 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 interview. 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.