From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
June 23, 2011
Contact: Janice McCoy
(512) 463-0124

Governor Signs Fraser Child Witness Protection Bill

Austin — Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) is pleased to announce that Governor Rick Perry signed legislation into law to create protections for child witnesses. The Fraser authored bill will protect children from confusing and intimidating practices while testifying in a criminal case.

Senate Bill 578 will require a judge in a criminal case to administer the oath in a manner so that the child understands his or her duty to tell the truth, to ensure that the language used to question the child is appropriate to the child's age and to prevent intimidation or harassment of the child by any party.

"Children deserve to be treated appropriately in the courtroom," said Fraser. "This new law will facilitate fair and more accurate testimony from children."

The legislation also will provide protections to limit the amount of time a child can be on the witness stand, to allow a child to hold a comfort item like a toy or a blanket, and to allow the child to have a support person nearby.

"Uniform guidelines for the treatment of child witnesses will create an environment where children can testify with minimal stress," added Fraser. "This legislation is about making sure our most vulnerable citizens are protected."

SB 578 will take effect on September 1, 2011 and will only apply to criminal proceedings that begin after that date.

Senator Fraser represents a 21-county region in the geographic center of the state. He is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. He also sits on the following standing Senate Committees: Economic Development, Nominations, State Affairs, and International Relations and Trade.