By J. Steven Beckett and Steven D. Stennett
About the Article
The growth of the U.S. elderly population has led to increased debate over many policies and programs affecting older Americans. Mr. Beckett and Mr. Stennett extend this debate into the area of criminal procedure, where the Confrontation Clause and current rules of evidence may require elderly or disabled witnesses to risk their personal health in order to testify in criminal proceedings. The authors suggest that to secure the testimony of the elderly witness, under circumstances designed to protect the constitutional rights of the criminal defendant, the elderly or disabled witness should be able to testify via closed-circuit television from a remote location. The authors review the constitutional considerations and criminal and civil rules of procedure that shape the American trial testimony process. The authors evaluate whether, under the current set of laws and rules, an elderly witness would be permitted to testify other than in-person, or if the Supreme Court decision in Maryland v. Craig opens the door for the elderly witness to testify via closed-circuit television. Finally, the authors propose that a rule of criminal procedure should be adopted expressly authorizing the use of closed-circuit televised testimony by the elderly or disabled where the procedure does not otherwise undermine the confrontation rights of a criminal defendant. This proposed rule affords and anticipates equal access by criminal defendants to such elder witnesses.
About the Authors
J. Steven Beckett is the President of Beckett & Webber, P.C., and focuses his practice in the areas of the First Amendment and Criminal Law. Mr. Beckett is an adjunct professor with the University of Illinois College of Law where he has coordinated the College of Law’s Trial Advocacy program since 1994. Mr. Beckett has published several articles and is co-author of a book, Preparing for Your Deposition, and its update, How to Prepare For, Take and Use a Deposition.
Steven D. Stennett graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1998 and is currently practicing with the law firm of Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Stennett concentrates practice in general corporate and antitrust law.
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