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Copyright (c) 1995 American Psychological Association, Inc. 
Psychology, Public Policy and Law

ARTICLE: FOR THE RECORD: Videotaping Investigative Interviews

June, 1995

1 Psych. Pub. Pol. and L. 370


Lucy S. McGough


Modern technology has made possible two alternatives to trial testimony by children from the witness stand: live closed-circuit videotelecasts of their testimony and the playback of recorded pretrial investigative interviews. Both technologies were used in State v. Michaels 1 for the presentation of the children's accusations. Both technological "advances" raise serious constitutional issues, potentially impinging on an accused's due process and confrontation rights. 2 Both technologies have surfaced in U.S. Supreme Court decisions involving child witnesses, although the Court has given its express approval only for the limited use of closed-circuit television when necessary to shield the child from the accused. 3

In her article, Jean Montoya explored the less-well-studied and hence more speculative dangers of closed-circuit televised presentations of a child's account. 4 Although the child witnesses were shielded from the defendant in State v. Michaels, 5 we have little information one way or the other about how or whether the use of closed-circuit television affected the reliability of the children's trial testimony or the perception of their testimonial reliability by the New Jersey trial jury. 6 In contrast, the use of the audiotaped pretrial interviews to demonstrate suggestive interviewing techniques proved to be the undoing of the prosecution.

Thirty-nine investigative interviews with 34 children were audiotaped in the Michaels case. 7 In their testimony, the child witnesses referred extensively to their pretrial statements, and though never formally introduced in evidence by either the prosecution or defense, several of the interview tapes were played for ...
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