A 1985 Maryland law allowing child abuse victims to testify over closed-circuit television rather than confront their abusers in court was upheld yesterday by the state Court of Appeals.
The unanimous decision in two cases from Anne Arundel County was the first ruling on the constitutionality of the law by Maryland's highest court.
An opinion by Judge William Adkins said the use of television does not violate a defendant's constitutional right to confront his accusers.
The court noted that the defendant is allowed to watch the testimony, that the defendant's lawyer can cross-examine the witness and that the defendant can consult with his lawyer at any time.
In both cases, the victim was a 9-year-old girl and the defendant was her father.
The court upheld one conviction. It ordered a new trial in the second case because the state did not prove that testimony in court would cause such serious emotional distress that the child could not testify.
The 1985 law allows a child to testify in a separate room if the judge determines "that testimony by the child victim in the courtroom will result in the child suffering serious emotional distress such that the child cannot reasonably communicate."