Two Critical Evidentiary Issues in Child Sexual Abuse Cases: Closed-Circuit Testimony by Child Victims and Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule

By Goodman, Allison C. | American Criminal Law Review, Spring 1995 | Go to article overview

Two Critical Evidentiary Issues in Child Sexual Abuse Cases: Closed-Circuit Testimony by Child Victims and Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule


Goodman, Allison C., American Criminal Law Review


[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

I. Introduction

The American public is often outraged by its perception that our criminal justice system offers greater protection to the accused than to the child victim involved in a child sexual abuse prosecution. This perception most often stems from the evidentiary requirements and procedural rules in criminal cases, which, to the outside observer, appear indifferent to the emotional needs and well-being of the child victim. Such a view fails, however, to acknowledge the importance of the accused's constitutional rights, particularly those secured by the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause.(1)

Commentators often cite evidentiary issues in their criticism of the criminal justice system's handling of the problems frequently associated with child sexual abuse cases. They note that it is often the case that the child victim is the only witness, the victim is of an age at which she is not considered to be a particularly reliable witness, and there is little or no evidence of the type to which our criminal system accords validity.(2) There often is little or no corroborating evidence, and the case may depend solely upon the child's accusations.(3)

The United States Supreme Court has acknowledged the difficulties inherent in detecting and prosecuting child sexual abuse cases.(4) Legislatures and courts at both the federal and state levels have also responded to claims that courtroom appearances are traumatic and even damaging to children, enacting statutory procedures to make the courtroom more child-friendly.(5)

The response to measures making the courtroom more child-friendly has varied greatly. Child advocates and prosecutors often see these measures as long-awaited breakthroughs. Moreover, a majority of the Supreme Court has held that in some instances, concern for the well-being of a child may justify the use of alternative procedures that compromise the accused's Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against her.(6) Other commentators, including several Justices, defense attorneys and commentators have argued, however, that many of the measures aimed at protecting child victim witnesses violate the Sixth Amendment's absolute guarantee of confrontation.(7)

This Note will examine two evidentiary issues arising in child sexual abuse cases that have been challenged as violating the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause. First, Part II will analyze two recent Supreme Court decisions which addressed attempts by the state to eliminate face-to-face confrontation between the accused and the child witness. The Note will argue that, while protecting a child victim from severe harm is a compelling state interest, the Supreme Court's standard for eliminating face-to-face confrontation does not adequately protect the accused's Confrontation Clause rights and departs from the Court's earlier precedent.

Part III will explore recent Supreme Court jurisprudence on the admission of hearsay statements in child sexual abuse prosecutions. While the Supreme Court has adequately protected the accused's Confrontation Clause rights when the hearsay exception involved is not "firmly rooted," it has failed to provide adequate protection in cases in which a "firmly rooted" hearsay exception has been invoked.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a statement falling within a "firmly rooted" hearsay exception satisfies the requirements of the Confrontation Clause without further inquiry as to whether the person who made the statement is unavailable, or as to whether there are sufficient indicia of reliability. The Court's ruling has left open the possibility for courts and majority-ruled legislatures to create "firmly rooted" hearsay exceptions, and has thus condoned the erosion of the Confrontation Clause.

Part IV will examine the effects of the recent Supreme Court decisions, focusing on the resulting trends in lower federal and state court decisions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Two Critical Evidentiary Issues in Child Sexual Abuse Cases: Closed-Circuit Testimony by Child Victims and Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.