What Would Happen If Videotaped Depositions of Sexually Abused Children Were Routinely Admitted in Civil Trials? A Journey Through the Legal Process and Beyond
As all of us are aware, there has been concern throughout our legal system about the trauma that child victims of sexual abuse suffer when testifying at criminal trials. It is likely that these same concerns will follow into the civil arena as civil cases for sexual abuse of child victims become more common. In response, advocates of child victims will propose that videotapes of child depositions be admitted in trial in place of live testimony. Such evidence may have profound effects on juries and may also alter the role of advocates in our civil system. This Article is about how the possibility of videotaped child depositions offers a promise that the law cannot keep. Video depositions in civil cases promise sexual child abuse victims a kinder, gentler path to compensation. This promise cannot be kept because, pre- tend as we might, what we create within the categorical world of the law cannot be hermetically sealed off from the outer world. Legal realists are concerned with the seepage of influences from the outer world into the legal domain. Conversely, this Article focuses upon seepage from the legal domain into the outer world.
John B. Mitchell, What Would Happen If Videotaped Depositions of Sexually Abused Children Were Routinely Admitted in Civil Trials? A Journey Through the Legal Process and Beyond , 15 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 261 (1992).