Senators Flake and Feinstein Introduce Bill to Protect Child Witnesses

Published on December 8, 2016

United States Senators Jeffry Flake (R-Arizona) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) have introduced legislation to prevent self-represented defendants in sexual assault cases from personally cross-examining their own child victims. Jack Wilenchik, an attorney at Wilenchik & Bartness, P.C. drafted the initial legislation based on a UNESCO model law (Article 27 of the “Justice in Matters involving Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime” Model Law and Related Commentary), and also based on briefing that was filed in the M.A. v. Simcox matter, in which Mr. Wilenchik filed a Petition for Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Wilenchik also worked with the Senators’ counsel and other victims’ rights advocates to reach a final proposed bill. The legislation would require that a lawyer conduct the cross-examination, under the supervision of the Judge. See S.3524 – A bill to amend Rule 611 of the Federal Rules of Evidence to prohibit cross-examination by the accused of minor victims of sexual assault.