SENATE, No. 1326

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 11, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Senator  STEVEN V. OROHO

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Permits domestic violence victim witness to testify via closed circuit television under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning domestic violence witnesses and supplementing chapter 84A of Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Prosecutions or actions for domestic violence; closed circuit testimony by vulnerable witness.

     a.     In prosecutions for a crime or offense involving domestic violence, the court may, on motion and after conducting a hearing in camera, order the taking of the testimony of a witness on closed circuit television at the trial, out of the view of the jury, defendant, or spectators upon making findings as provided in subsection b. of this section.

     b.    An order under this section may be made only if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.  The order shall be specific as to whether the witness will testify outside the presence of spectators, the defendant, the jury, or all of them and shall be based on specific findings relating to the impact of the presence of each.

     c.     A motion seeking closed circuit testimony under subsection a. of this section may be filed by:

     (1)   The victim or witness or the victim's or witness's attorney, parent or legal guardian;

     (2)   The prosecutor;

     (3)   The defendant or the defendant's counsel; or

     (4)   The trial judge on the judge's own motion.

     d.    The defendant's counsel shall be present at the taking of testimony in camera.  If the defendant is not present, he and his attorney shall be able to confer privately with each other during the testimony by a separate audio system.

     e.     If testimony is taken on closed circuit television pursuant to the provisions of this act, a stenographic recording of that testimony shall also be required.  A transcript of that testimony shall be included in the record on appeal.   The closed circuit testimony itself shall not constitute part of the record on appeal except on motion for good cause shown.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would permit a domestic violence victim to testify against an alleged abuser via closed circuit television in prosecutions for a crime or offense involving domestic violence.

     Under the bill, the court may, following a hearing order the taking of the testimony out of the presence of the jury, defendant, or spectators.  Closed circuit testimony would be allowed if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.