Child Witness Trauma Cases In Iowa

The State's interest in protecting child witnesses from the trauma of testifying in certain cases may be sufficiently important to outweigh, at least in some cases, the defendant's right to face his accusers in court. Maryland v. Craig, 497 U.S. 836, 853, 855, 110 S. Ct. 3157, 3167, 3169, 111 L. Ed. 2d 666, 683, 685 (1990). To find the requisite showing of necessity by the State, the trial court must find: (1) the procedure is necessary to protect the welfare of the child; (2) the child would be traumatized, not by the courtroom generally, but by defendant's presence; (3) the emotional distress suffered by the child witness in the presence of defendant would be more than de minimus. Craig, 497 U.S. at 855-56, 110 S. Ct. at 3169, 111 L. Ed. 2d at 685. If the trauma that will result from testifying in defendant's physical presence impairs or handicaps a child's ability to communicate, protective measures must be adopted. State v. Rupe, 534 N.W.2d 442, 444 (Iowa 1995). Iowa Code section 915.38 provides: The court may . . . order that the testimony of a minor . . . be taken by recorded deposition for use at trial. . . . In addition to requiring that such testimony be recorded by stenographic means, the court may on motion and hearing, and upon a finding that the minor is unavailable as provided in Iowa rules of evidence 804(a), order the videotaping of the minor's testimony for viewing in the courtroom by the court. the videotaping shall comply with the provisions of rule of criminal procedure 12(2)(b), and shall be admissible as evidence in the trial.