I've got an indecency case which may have to be tried to a jury. The victim is identified by a pseudonym in the indictment. I've done this before but I've never tried one to a jury. If you've done so, I'd like some advice on how to handle the identity issue during voir dire and during the trial. I realize this may be a little lengthy for a post so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 936-336-4609. Thanks.
Just got a call with the advice that I needed from the Williamson County DA's Office. Thanks, Jane!
I've never had a problem with trying a pseudonym case to the jury.
I explain to the jury on voir dire, while going through the elements, that victims have the right to take a pseudonym. But I do assure them that they'll see the victim, meet her, and get to learn her real name, that the law is just to protect her from the media, public documents, etc. I then ask if anyone disagrees w/ that law, nobody ever has.
When I go through my witness list at voir dire, I include the victim along with everyone else, but don't single her out as being the victim, just one of many witnesses.
At trial when she testifies, I just ask her name, then ask if she is the person referred to in the indictment as Jane Doe or whatever.
No big deal, really.
Feel free to email me if you have other issues. email@example.com
Is your problem with how to set up the pseudonym in the first place, or how to handle it at trial? After all, to prove that the person named in the indictment is the same as your witness, all you should need to do is have the witness testify that she has used the name "Jane Doe" for purposes of the case, and that she is the same person you named, the same way you might handle it if a defendant or named victim went by multiple names aside from the one in the indictment.
I was a little concerned about handling the pseudonym issue during voir dire and trial. But as a result of everyone's help, I think I've got a handle on it now. Thanks.
Was curios about this b/c just started looking into this for our office in Juvi Cases (Juvi def. with Minor victim).
To my knowledge, we've not used the "Jane Doe" before on a case and I'm curious as to how often it is actually used by other offices.
First, does the victim or vic's family need to request it, or do you do it on your own on certain types of cases (sex offenses)?
A second question, following on Wes's last post, what about if your victim is really young, as in 3 or 4 and you think at some point that you may have an issue with having him or her testify at trial, if it was to go that far? I'm guessing that the officer could testify as to who the Jane Doe is?
We had a trial not so long ago where we had a four year old victim whose family asked for a psudonym. At trial, we had the investigator explain the process and who "Annie" really was. Our vic didn't have to deal with it at all because we had the investigator testify before her. It worked.
As a follow up, You said the Family requested the name. Do you only do it if it's requested, or do you make it a practice in every case like this just to be safe?
My understanding is that the police reports can use them too. If they don't start out using the "jane doe" is it too late to do it in the petition/indictment?
Sorry I missed the first question. The family asked for a psudonym when they talked to the police. So, none of the reports had child's real name. We just continued the use of psudonym on the indictment and other filings. The police/S.O. should offer the option to the victim.
Just this week we had an indecency case where victims did not use the psudonym. It was in the police reports, so we used real names in the indictment. Our small town paper is good about not printing names of victims when reporting on these cases, so it works here.
We (luckily) have not had too many of these cases. We leave it up to police/S.O. to explain psudonyms and offer them to the victims. If the victim/family is concerned about privacy, they usually IMMEDIATELY request them. I guess they could ask us & we could indict using them, even though their names are already out there on the police reports. Hope this helps.
Helps very much. Thanks alot.
When we first began regularly to use pseudonyms for kids of all ages, we had a rash of names like Sharon Stone, Britney Spears and the like because the investigators were allowing preteens & teens to choose their own. Of course, I had the mom who chose Taylor Dayne for her child's pseudonym so the kids were not solely to blame.
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