Interviews and depositions of children

On January 16, 2020, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 206 on interviews and depositions of children in sex offense cases.  The bill, authored by Sen. Messmer, creates certain procedures and protections in a defense interview or a court ordered deposition for a child less than 16 years of age who is the victim of a sex crime. The bill also provides that the term “defense counsel” includes the defense counsel, the defendant, or an agent of the defendant or defense counsel.  Sen. Messmer stated that he is working with the Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Judicial Conference of Indiana’s Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, and the Indiana Public Defender Council to amend the bill.

The Committee heard testimony from Judge Faith Graham, on behalf of the Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Judge Vicki Carmichael, president of the Indiana Judges Association; the Indiana Public Defender Council; the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council; the Indiana Coalition  To End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking; and the Tippecanoe County prosecutor.  The bill was held for further amendments and a vote.

On January 22, 2020, the bill was amended by consent.  The amendment clarified that the bill referred to depositions only, provided additional layers of judicial discretion, and codified confrontation rights of the accused.  The Committed also provided an opportunity for additional testimony.

The Indiana Judges Association (IJA) and the Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee (JJIC) testified in opposition to the bill as amended.  Specifically, IJA and JJIC took issue with the following line: “A court may not order a deposition solely for discovery purposes.”  However, IJA and JJIC indicated that they were open to further discussions. The Indiana State Public Defender’s Office also testified in opposition.  The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support of the amended bill.  The amended bill passed 10-0

Read the bill at:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/bills/senate/206