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Child Abuse cases - video interviews of victims

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July 01, 2009, 11:25
Sherri Tibbe
Child Abuse cases - video interviews of victims
Question: In your office, do you allow defense attorneys to review the video interviews of child abuse victims prior to trial?
Does anyone give them a copy or do you just allow them to view the interview?

July 01, 2009, 11:53
Andrea W
We just let them view it.
July 01, 2009, 12:18
Allow them to view.
July 01, 2009, 13:36
Allow them to view it.
July 01, 2009, 13:39
Allow them to view, in our office. No copies made.
July 01, 2009, 16:43
Martin Z.
I'll echo the consensus: we allow them to be viewed in our office only with no copies made.
July 02, 2009, 09:44
John Talley
We have an open file policy and some defense lawyers use their laptops to make copies of our photo CDs instead of us making them a duplicate CD.
So, to insure that there is no inadvertant copying of victim interviews, we have them view the interview CDs in our office on OUR equipment.
July 06, 2009, 14:44
We just let them view the video in our office; no copies. I recently had to write a brief on the issue for one of our judges who was about to require the State to provide a copy. He eventually ruled for the State.

However, while at a conference with folks from other states, apparently other states do give copies of the videos and seemed surprised that we didn't.
July 06, 2009, 15:54
Even though the Admin Code has an answer for this if it is a CPS (as opposed to criminal) case, I usually explain it by saying that we don't want the video inadvertently ending up somewhere online. As a former defense attorney, I know that no reputable lawyer would do that intentionally. But, things go through so many hands and sometimes it "just gets away". Most people are okay with that explanation.
July 08, 2009, 08:46
Well it is best to protect. We had an attorney get a copy of a tape (don't think it was a child sexual assault tape) and leave it at the restaurant after lunch.
April 26, 2010, 15:21
What legal grounds do y'all use to keep from having to copy the child's video and giving it over to the defense in a CPS case?
April 26, 2010, 16:33
See Texas Rule of Evidence 615. Defendant only has a right to request production of a witness statement after direct examination of the witness.

So, there is no right to production before trial.

That leaves the State the discretion to provide access before trial.

Likewise, article 39.14, CCP, dealing with discovery, excepts written statements of witnesses from discovery as a right.

See also the Family Code, section 264.408(d), providing that ownership of the recorded forensic interview, if done at a children's advocacy center, goes to the prosecutor. And other language protecting confidentiality of contents.
April 27, 2010, 09:15
e sainz
If you want case law, too: Dickens, 727 SW2d 542
April 27, 2010, 10:14
As always, thanks
April 27, 2010, 10:43
We give a copy of the tape.
April 27, 2010, 11:18
Andrea W
Discovery only requires access, not that they be given a copy. We allow the defense attorneys to view it in our office. They can watch it as many times as they want and take whatever notes they want, they just can't get a physical copy to take home. If they wanted to introduce it at trial for whatever reason, we could provide the copy then.
April 29, 2010, 12:43
We only allow the defense attorney to view the forensic interview in our office. When the defense has requested that the judge order a copy to be turned over, I have argued that there is a public policy interest against a recording of a child describing sex acts being out there in the public, and that if the recording made it to a perpetrator, he could use the visual and verbal description for sexual gratification. We allow the defense attorney to watch it as many times as he needs to in our office.