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Colorado Allows Therapy Dog During Child’s Testimony

Colorado this week joined a long line of states approving the presence of a therapy dog during a child’s testimony.  In this case, a child testified about sexual abuse by her mother‘s boyfriend.    The court granted the prosecution’s motion to have a trained dog sit at her feet, out of sight of the jury.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the resulting conviction, noting that “the trial court exercised its special care to assist a young victim during her testimony.”  The appellate court also joined the majority of jurisdictions in holding that the prosecution need not show that the dog was necessary to the child’s testimony.  “Here, the trial court found that (1) Tillie’s presence would assist the witness; (2) based on prior interactions, Tillie wouldn’t interfere with the proceedings; and (3) Tillie would remain out of view of the jury and wouldn’t have a prejudicial impact on the jury. These findings are supported by the record, and we conclude that, in the absence of a statute imposing a requirement of necessity, no greater showing was required.”

We ... conclude that permitting a witness to testify in the presence of a comfort animal doesn’t violate a defendant’s confrontation rights.

Tags

child witness, youth serving organizations