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Aberrant Offline
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Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - April 30th 2009, 02:47 PM

Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal

Quote:
CHILD sexual abuse victims are being bullied in the witness box by lawyers who by admit they would not put their own children through such a “horrible” ordeal.

The revelation comes as NSW Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC called for uniform legislation to protect young witnesses.

One prosecutor, who has worked on a number of pedophilia cases, said their own son was the victim of abuse – but they did not take the perpetrator to court, because of the undue trauma the child would suffer.

“I didn’t think it was a winnable case,” the prosecutor, who did not want to be named, told news.com.au.

In one case, a 10-year-old boy and his 11-year-old friend were sexually assaulted. The younger boy was accused of lying about his experience more than 10 times during cross-examination before he turned to the judge and asked for a break.

Just before the court was adjourned, the lawyer accused the child – who was eight at the time of the abuse – of not seeing his friend being abused either.

“You didn't actually see those things - you didn't actually see these things happen, did you, the sucking of the doodle …” the lawyer said, before being interrupted by the child, during the cross-examination.

The child said: “Yes, I did. Could I please have a break?”

After the break, the same lawyer again repeatedly accused him of lying because he “wanted a way to get back” at his attacker after a water-fight.

The attacker was later convicted of three counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13 years, encouraging a child under the age of 13 years to commit an indecent act and indecent dealing of a child under the age of 13 years.

In another case, a 14-year-old girl whose father was accused of abusing her since she was a toddler was graphically cross-examined over two days before the man was found guilty on four charges.

More than three pages of the transcript was dedicated to questioning about the “gel” she said her father put on his penis before anally raping her while her brother sat in another room.

One defence lawyer, who was told more than a dozen times by a judge to “calm down” and stop harassing a 14-year-old girl during a single cross-examination, said he supported questioning via video-link.

“The worst thing, if you’re acting for a bloke, the worst thing to see in front of a jury is to have an 8-year-old girl crying while she’s talking about daddy sticking his fingers up her bum,” the lawyer told university researchers in 2003.

“I’m in favour of it because I think it will help me get a bloke off.”

But when asked, if his own child was abused, would he pursue justice, the lawyer answered firmly: “No way in the world.

“It’s horrible. The whole thing is horrible… what the kid has to go through is horrible.

“It might be simply that the informed rational proper thing to do is try and get to go to a psychologist and psychiatrist and get over it, but don’t bloody aggravate is by putting it through the courts.”

After reading transcripts of cross-examinations from other states, Ms Cunneen SC, who has successfully prosecuted notorious sex offenders such as Robert “Dolly” Dunn and Bilal Skaf, said children were being victimised because of their young age.

“(Defence lawyers have) the capacity to end up with completely inaccurate responses… by using words that might not be understood by a child,” Ms Cunneen said.

“And the defence counsel has so much knowledge of the case that the child thinks that they know more than the child does."

Ray Gibson, who heads the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions’ sex offences unit, said some defence lawyers were too aggressive when questioning children.

“Some are sensitive… others can be quite bullying and use very complicated language, like using double-negatives in questions,” Mr Gibson said.

“A child will say ‘I s’pose’ in hope of alleviating some of the pressure on them. It can be designed to create reasonable doubt.”

When asked if he would seek justice in the courts if he had a son or daughter that was abused, Mr Gibson said: “No comment. You can quote me on that.”

Ms Cunneen said states should implement better regulations for witnesses to make sure all victims of child sexual abuse were protected from harsh or excessive cross-examination.

“I think there should be uniform standards applied,” Ms Cunneen said.

Over the past decade, most states have introduced legislation to help protect victims of sexual assaults.

Prosecutors cited the use of CCTV cross-examinations as a big step, allowing children to give evidence without having to be in the same room as their abuser.

But Mr Gibson said some defence lawyers did not place much emphasis on the trauma their actions cause on a child.

“Their primary concern isn’t the welfare of the child, it’s their client,” Mr Gibson said.

Julian Williams from the Department of Public Prosecutions in Western Australia said a recent conference of witness support workers and victims showed that seeking justice in the courts was worthwhile.

“If you had had the benefit of hearing or speaking to any of the delegates at this conference and experiencing their dedication and commitment to the support of victims and witnesses and the process of justice you would find (that) question totally unnecessary,” Mr Williams said.

He also said that pre-recorded testimony from children was “appropriately controlled by the judge at all times”.

“The amount of disruption to the child’s normal life is minimised.”
Source: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,25403190-2,00.html

Just wondering what everyone on TH thought about this. I know that a lot of people here have had to deal sexual abuse. What do you think of the tactics used by lawyers? And what about the other side - as it says in the article, the lawyers are there to defend the client and uphold his side of the story in court, is the fact that their harsh needed?
   
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Re: Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - April 30th 2009, 02:58 PM

unnecessary to be harsh when cross-examination of a victim.


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Re: Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - April 30th 2009, 03:02 PM

There need to be limits on cross-examinations of minors. It seriously could cause psychological or emotional damage, not to mention it forces the child to relive what happened over and over again, while being contradicted by someone who's supposed to be an authority figure.


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Re: Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - April 30th 2009, 03:21 PM

I agree with you full, but what about the other side of the argument. What if it is a false accusation? Not that likely, yes, but still a possible reality. And the nature of hash is subjective, should it be up the a judge to uphold whats 'right' and not?
   
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Re: Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - April 30th 2009, 10:17 PM

There's a problem, yes. But what's the alternative? The prosecution need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused actually abused a child, and if they aren't allowed to ask probing questions the defence will walk all over them. Protecting kids from "bullying" lawyers may sound like a good idea, but one of the consequences will be that fewer child abusers will be jailed.
   
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Re: Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - May 3rd 2009, 01:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aberrant View Post
I agree with you full, but what about the other side of the argument. What if it is a false accusation? Not that likely, yes, but still a possible reality. And the nature of hash is subjective, should it be up the a judge to uphold whats 'right' and not?
It's just a lose-lose situation. I hate that children have to go through such things on the witness stand, but questions have to be asked.


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Re: Bullying lawyers would not put their own kids through court ordeal - May 5th 2009, 04:37 AM

Children shouldn't have to be so harshly treated on the stand, but at the same time, we have to make sure innocent people are not sent to jail...
maybe they could put some restrictions of how they question them? no yelling ans such?



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