It took two legislative sessions, but a compromise was reached earlier this year. Now, specific measures exist in the Child Witness Protection Act to make a child more comfortable on the witness stand.
Unfortunately, that progress was threatened last week when a prosecutor in Taney County Associate Circuit Court tried to use the new law in a way never intended, and a judge did not stop him.
Tuesday's decision to improperly close a courtroom off to the public -- although briefly -- did nothing to help the cause of children who find themselves in the tough, at-times agonizing role of child witness, or victim.
In fact, if this kind of overreaching continues, it could result in the protection act being overturned.
Fortunately, the maneuver was short-lived and did not create a major problem. However, it should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone trying to become too aggressive in their zeal to protect kids.
Monday, November 30, 2009
News-Leader editorial: Law protecting child witnesses is good; Judge's decision to close Pete Newman case was not what law intended
In an editorial in today's edition, the Springfield News-Leader defends the new law protecting child witnesses, but notes that what Judge Tony Williams did recently when he decided to close the preliminary hearing for former Kanakuk director Pete Newman (a decision which turned out to be unnecessary when Newman waived the hearing) was not what the law intended: