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Youngster Witnesses in Household Legislation: The Use of Youngster Witnesses in Snohomish County, Washington Divorce Circumstances

Youngster Witnesses in Household Legislation: The Use of Youngster Witnesses in Snohomish County, Washington Divorce Circumstances

Youngster Witnesses in Household Legislation: The Use of Youngster Witnesses in Snohomish County, Washington Divorce Circumstances

Jane Doe is a fictional divorcee whose destiny will sound acquainted to most divorce attorneys. Her husband, John Doe, had repeatedly and outright lied in acquiring residential major take care of Jane’s younger ladies. He claimed to cook dinner most of their daughters’ meals, wash their garments, learn to them… the fabricated record went on and on. Few witnesses may contradict him as he stored a convincing facade for his household and pals. The one third-party witnesses who knew the reality had been the events’ daughters, and Jane Doe’s legal professional refused to supply the younger ladies’ testimony. His lawyer stated testimony “from youngsters is usually inadmissible”.

Jane Doe, like many divorced mother and father, could have misplaced custody as a result of her legal professional was unaware of latest authorized developments opening the door for a kid’s testimony. In 2010, the Washington Supreme Court docket’s opinion in State v. SJW, 170 Wn.2nd 92 clarified that youngsters are presumed competent to testify. Because the Court docket wrote: “A six-year-old baby…could also be extra apt to testify than an grownup in a given case; no courtroom ought to presume {that a} baby is unfit to testify on the idea of his or her age alone… [W]We imagine that courts ought to presume that every one witnesses are competent to testify, no matter age. The Court docket supported its opinion with comparable federal regulation.

At a 2011 persevering with authorized schooling seminar on household regulation proof in Snohomish County, commentator Karl Tegland stated witnesses over the age of 4 are inclined to survive jurisdictional challenges in Washington. A member of the general public responded with fun that no “Snohomish County Household Legislation Commissioner would go away an legal professional with an oz of dignity” if the legal professional tried to submit a press release from a baby that age. Different contributors shared the vocal viewers member’s reservations about testifying youngsters. Apparent sensible and public coverage considerations have given native courts and practitioners good motive to keep away from baby testimony, particularly in household regulation hearings the place events submit assertion proof.

Nevertheless, the SJW case, federal regulation, and Tegland’s remark recommend that the perceived worth of a kid’s testimony overcomes many of those considerations in different places and jurisdictions. Eric Johnson, a Utah legal professional, wrote the next in protection of the kid depositions he takes: “The true motive individuals don’t need youngsters deposed…is as a result of that youngsters, as a result of they’re younger, and subsequently inexperienced and naive, have a a lot tougher time being clever and evasive Individuals who don’t need youngsters to be deposed object as a result of the testimony of a kid fairly often has an actual probative worth which damages the case of those that oppose the testimony of the kid.

For higher or for worse, makes an attempt to supply the testimony of youthful youngsters are rising. Divorce attorneys in Snohomish County and all through Washington State must be ready.

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