2015 Oklahoma Statutes
Title 12. Civil Procedure
§12-2611.2. Minor or incapacitated witnesses - Closing of testimony to public - Taking testimony outside courtroom - Meeting in chambers with judge and attorneys - Presence of support person or therapeutic dog.
A. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to provide the court with discretion to employ unusual court procedures to protect the rights of incapacitated persons, while ensuring the rights of a criminal defendant and the integrity of the judicial process.
B. As used in this section:
1. "Support person" means a parent, other relative or a next friend chosen by the witness to accompany the witness to court proceedings;
2. "Incapacitated witness" means any witness in a criminal proceeding that is a person who is defined as an incapacitated person or vulnerable adult as such terms are defined by the provisions of Section 10-103 of Title 43A of the Oklahoma Statutes; and
3. "Witness" means incapacitated witness.
C. The court, upon motion of counsel, shall conduct a hearing to determine whether the testimony of a witness shall be closed to the public. In making the decision, the court shall consider:
1. The nature and seriousness of the issues in the proceeding;
2. The age of the witness;
3. The relationship, if any, of the witness to the defendant;
4. The extent to which the size of the community would preclude the anonymity of the witness;
5. The likelihood of public disgrace of the witness;
6. Whether there is an overriding public interest in having the testimony of the witness presented in open court;
7. The substantial risk that the identity of the witness would be disclosed to the public during the proceeding;
8. The substantial probability that the disclosure of the identity of the witness would cause serious harm to the witness;
9. Whether the witness has disclosed information concerning the case to the public in a manner which would preclude anonymity of the witness; and
10. Other factors the court may deem necessary to protect the interests of justice.
D. If the court determines that the testimony of the witness is to be closed to the public, the court shall in its order accordingly and set forth the persons who can be present during the taking of testimony of the witness, which shall include:
1. The parties to the proceeding and their counsel;
2. Any officer having custody of the witness;
3. Court personnel as may be necessary to conduct the hearing and maintain order, including but not limited to the judge, the court clerk, the bailiff, and the court reporter;
4. Jury members, if appropriate; and
5. The witness and a support person for the witness.
E. The testimony of the witness may be taken in the courtroom, in chambers, or in some other comfortable place. If the testimony of a witness is to be taken in a courtroom, the witness and support person shall be assembled in the court chambers prior to the taking of the testimony to meet for a reasonable period of time with the judge, and counsel for the parties. At this meeting court procedures shall be explained to the witness and counsel shall be given an opportunity to establish a rapport with the witness to facilitate taking the testimony of the witness at a later time. The facts involved in the proceeding shall not be discussed with the witness during this meeting.
F. A witness shall have the right to be accompanied by a support person while giving testimony in the proceeding, but the support person shall not discuss the testimony of the witness with any other witnesses or attempt to prompt or influence the testimony of the witness in any way. In lieu of a support person, a witness shall be afforded the opportunity to have a certified therapeutic dog accompanied by the handler of the certified therapeutic dog pursuant to the provisions set forth in Section 1 of this act.
Added by Laws 1996, c. 202, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1996. Renumbered from § 2803.2 of this title by Laws 1999, c. 108, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1999. Amended by Laws 2000, c. 340, § 21, eff. July 1, 2000; Laws 2002, c. 468, § 51, eff. Nov. 1, 2002; Laws 2003, c. 405, § 10, eff. Nov. 1, 2003; Laws 2014, c. 81, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 2014.
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