The Champion

November 2010 , Page 37 

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Taint Hearing: Scientific And Legal Underpinnings

By Ashish S. Joshi

Federal Rule of Evidence 602 and the corresponding state rules require that a witness must testify from personal knowledge. If witnesses are unable to testify from personal knowledge because their memories have been altered or manipulated, they are said to be tainted.1 These tainted witnesses are not competent to testify at trial.

More often than not, the alleged victim in a child sexual abuse case has been questioned repeatedly by several authority figures in different settings. These authority figures may include anxious parents and other adult family members, schoolteachers, forensic interviewers, police officials, and social worker therapists. There is reasonable concern that the child witness’s memory of events has been tainted by the questioning, interviewing, or counseling such that the witness is not competent under the rules of evidence. In this circumstance, a taint hearing is needed to ascertain whether the proposed witness is competent to testify

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