Child testifying by closed circuit TV in NJ sex crimes cases
Posted by jefhenninger
I’ve never encountered a case where the issue of close circuit TV was even a thought. Thus, it seems to be more hype that reality although it has happened and thus, is a remote possibility (no pun intended). The statute governing this is NJSA 2A:84A-32.4. There are a few requirements: 1) the crime has to fall under one of the enumerated offenses (which lists most of them), 2) the victim is 16 years old or younger and 3) there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.
Interesting enough, the motion could be filed by just about anyone connected to the case including the State, the victim, the victim’s attorney, parent or legal guardian, the defendant, the defendant’s attorney or even the judge. Pursuant to State in the Interest of B.F., 230 N.J. Super. 153 (App. Div. 1989) if the defendant objects to such a motion, the burden of proof on the moving party is clear and convincing evidence.
If the victim indicates that the fear is of the defendant and the defendant waives his or her right to be present in court, then the trial court should deny the motion to testify via CCTV. State v. Crandall, 120 N.J. 649 (1990). Clearly, the jury cannot be told that the victim is so afraid of the defendant that he or she had to leave the court room. There will rarely be a point to finishing out the trial in that scenario. Does the court flat out lie to the jury then at this point? Surely such a scenario will make for some interesting discussions with the judge. Luckily, most attorneys will probably never encounter this in their careers.