Four state statutes give priority to certain types of cases but do not specify ages of victims
or witnesses. For example, Delaware,
68 and West
Virginia69 give priority to cases involving child physical or sexual abuse. Delaware’s statute
provides that, “The court shall consider the interest of the victim in a speedy prosecution.
Proceedings shall be expedited in cases involving a child victim or witness, particularly in child
abuse and sexual abuse cases.”
71 Preference is given to child custody or juvenile protections in
Minnesota’s state statute and to general juvenile court hearings in Missouri.72 Twenty-four states,
however, do not give preference, nor do they differentiate between trials involving child and adult
While many states do not give judicial priority to child witness cases, views on this practice
differ by jurisdiction. In the concern about psychological damage that repeated interviews cause,
expedited trials aim to minimize repeated interrogations of a child witness for the same reason. It
is considered standard practice to schedule children’s testimony during appropriate hours, when
the child is normally active, such as during school hours.74 Other considerations, such as a series
of short breaks during a lengthy testimony, are currently at the discretion of the court; the
expectation is that the judge will be aware of it when this need arises.
C. Out-of-Court Statement
Also known as “hearsay statements,”75 the admissibility of out-of-court statements is a
controversial issue in cases involving child witnesses and victims. The first Supreme Court case
on this issue was Ohio v. Roberts.76 Herschel Roberts was charged with forgery and possession of
stolen credit cards, retrieved through the help of his daughter.77 The daughter testified against her
father at the preliminary hearing, but did not appear for the full trial despite being subpoenaed five
65DEL. CODE ANN. tit. 11, § 9404 (West 2015) (discussing victim’s interest in speedy prosecution; child victim or
66FLA. STAT. ANN. § 918.0155 (West 2015).
67MASS. GEN. LAWS ANN. ch 278, § 16F (West 2015).
68MICH. COMP. LAWS ANN. § 780.759 (West 2015).
69W.V.A. R. CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT PROC. 7 .
70DEL. CODE ANN. tit. 11, § 9404 (West 2015)
72MO. ANN. STAT. § 491-710 (West 2015).
73General speedy trial provisions exist for the following states, either through statutes or individual state constitutions:
Colorado (COLO. REV. STAT. ANN. § 18-1-405 (West 2015)); Connecticut (CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 54-82c (West
2015)); Georgia (GA. CODE ANN. § 17-8-33 (West 2015)); Hawaii (HI. CONST. ART.
14); Indiana (IND. CONST.
12); Iowa (IOWA R. CRIM. PRO.
2. 33); Kansas (KAN. STAT. ANN. § 22-3401 (West 2015)); Louisiana (LA
CODE. CRIM. PROC. ANN. ART. 701 (2015)); Maine (ME. CONST. ART.
6); Maryland (MD. CODE ANN. CRIM. PROC.
§ 6-103 (West 2015)); Mississippi (MISS. CODE ANN. § 99-17-1 (West 2015)); Montana (MT. CONST. art.
New Mexico (N.M. CONST. ART.
14); North Carolina (N.C. GEN. STAT. ANN. §
15-10 (West 2015)); Ohio (OHIO
REV. CODE ANN. § 2945.71 (West 2015)); Oklahoma (OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 22 §
13 (West 2015)); Pennsylvania (234
PA. R. CRIM. PRO. 600); South Carolina (S.C. CONST. ART.
14); South Dakota (S.D. CONST. ART.
6, § 7); Texas
(TEXAS CRIM. PROC. CODE. ANN. Art. C.C.P. ART. 32A.01 (West 2015)); and Virginia (VA. CONST. ART.
74HALL & SALES, supra note 15, at 9.
75FED. R. EVID. 801(c). (Hearsay is defined as a “statement, other than one by the declarant while testifying at the
trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” An example of this scenario would be a
child disclosing sexual abuse to her therapist. The child is declared unable to testify at trial, but the court allows the
therapist to relay what the child told him about the abuse).
76Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980).
77Id. at 58.