Thursday, December 18, 2008

Right to a rebuttal witness

A reader sends the New York case of In re Fatima M.
In 2000, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) investigated the home of parents Rashad M. and Bernadine M. ... The appellate court objected to the fact that the father had not been allowed to present his own expert to counter his daughter's accusations.

In its ruling, the appellate court stated: "While petitioner and the law guardian were allowed to present their own experts, who opined that the twin girls had been subject to sexual abuse by their father, respondent father himself was not allowed to have an expert. By not allowing respondent father to present an expert, he was effectively precluded from fully exploring the possibility that Aquellah's accusations were a manifestation of her psychiatric problems. As such, his ability to present a defense was severely curtailed. While we are not insensitive to the effect on the children here, there was no evidence that this additional interview would traumatize either child. ..."
My trial was even more egregious than this. I was not even asking for permission to have an expert interview my kids. I just asked to present a witness who had already been appointed by the court and who had already interviewed the kids. But Cmr. Irwin Joseph refused to allow her to testify, arguing that there was no specific law authorizing her to comment on CPS testimony. The case is being appealed.

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