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Children's Competency to Testify

Gary B. Melton
Law and Human Behavior
Vol. 5, No. 1 (1981), pp. 73-85
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393900
Page Count: 13
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Children's Competency to Testify
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Abstract

Case law and relevant psychological research on children's competency to testify are reviewed. Memory in young children is not problematic if direct, simple questions are used. Children's difficulty in free recall, however, may make them more subject to leading questions. There is no pronounced developmental trend in honesty, and attempts on voir dire to assess honesty are probably invalid. Of most concern is young children's ability to form "just impression of the facts." Even children's limited conceptual skills may not be problematic, however, if jurors can discern the objective reality from the child's description, a point as yet unresearched. Research is also needed on the ways in which the courtroom setting affects a child's behavior.

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