Confronting Legal and Technological Incongruity: Remote Testimony for Child Witnesses

Elizabeth A. Mulkey · 17 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 2

Abstract

Child victims are often the only eyewitnesses in cases against their abusers. A child’s testimony may be necessary for a prosecutor to secure a conviction. However, the child must often face his or her abuser and relive the traumatic experience while giving this testimony. Any accommodations or protection of a child witness at trial must be balanced against the defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause. The Supreme Court’s decision in Maryland v. Craig allows child victims to testify via one-way, closed-circuit television in some circumstances, but the Court has not addressed two-way, closed-circuit testimony or remote testimony. In the absence of authorization from the Court, prosecutors have been reluctant to utilize state statutes allowing alternative methods of testimony from child witnesses. This Note proposes a limited expansion of trial accommodations for child witnesses, suggesting that the Supreme Court rule two-way video testimony permissible in any circumstances where one-way video testimony can be used. Additionally, testimony from a remote location should be allowed when one-way or two way video testimony would not be sufficient to protect the mental health of the child witness.