Little one Witnesses in Loved ones Legislation: Applying Youngster Witnesses in Snohomis…
Jane Doe is a fictional divorcée whose match will sound familiar to most divorce lawyers. Her partner, John Doe, experienced continuously and flatly lied in obtaining main residential treatment of Jane's youthful daughters. He claimed to prepare dinner the the vast majority of their daughters' meals, wash their clothing, read to them … the fabricated listing went on and on. Handful of witnesses could oppose him since he maintained a convincing façade for spouse and children and pals. The only 3rd-social gathering witnesses who understood the truth have been the functions 'daughters, and Jane Doe's legal professional declined to provide the young women' testimony. Her lawyer reported testimony from “little ones is generally inadmissible.”
Jane Doe, like several divorcing dad and mom, might have missing custody due to the fact her attorney was unaware of latest legal developments opening the door for child testimony. In 2010 the Washington Supreme Court docket's impression in Point out v. SJW, 170 Wn.2d 92 clarified that kids are presumptively proficient to testify. As the Court wrote: “A 6-year-previous little one … may well be additional skilled to testify than an adult in a supplied scenario no court docket really should presume a kid is incompetent to testify centered upon age by yourself … [W] e maintain that courts should really presume all witnesses are capable to testify regardless of their age. ” The Courtroom buttered its feeling with comparable federal law.
At a 2011 Family Regulation Evidence Continuing Legal Training Seminar in Snohomish County, commentator Karl Tegland said witnesses about the age of four have a tendency to survive competency worries in Washington. An viewers member responsibly chortled that no Snohomish County household legislation “commissioner would depart an legal professional with a shred of dignity” if the attorney attempted to submit a declaration from a kid that age. Other attendees shared the vocal viewers member's reservations about little one testimony. Distinct simple and public policy worries have presented regional courts and practitioners very good purpose to avoid little one testimony, primarily in family members law hearings the place parties post proof by declaration.
Nonetheless, the SJW scenario, federal law, and Tegland's comment suggest the perceived benefit of youngster testimony is overcoming a lot of of those concerns in other conditions and jurisprudence. Eric Johnson, a Utah legal professional, wrote the subsequent in defense of the little one deposits he conducts: “The serious rationale people today do not want kids deposited … is because young children, by their advantage of being young, and then inexperienced and naïve, have a great deal harder time remaining clever and evasive. People who do not want youngsters deposited object for the reason that a little one's testimony quite generally has authentic evidentiary value that is harming to the scenario of people who object to the kid's deposition. ”