Bill Text: NJ S497 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Allows certain prior statements by children to be admitted into evidence in child abuse and termination of parental rights cases.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 2-0)

Status: (Engrossed) 2018-04-05 - Received in the Assembly, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee [S497 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S497-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 497

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Allows certain prior statements by children to be admitted into evidence in child abuse and termination of parental rights cases.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning child abuse and neglect and supplementing P.L.1951, c.138.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  Previous statements made by a child relating to any allegations of abuse or neglect of that child shall be admissible in evidence in any hearing: to terminate parental rights pursuant to section 15 of P.L.1951, c.138 (C.30:4C-15); to provide judicial review and approval of a permanency plan pursuant to section 26 of P.L.1999, c.53 (C.30:4C-11.4); to determine care and supervision or custody pursuant to section 12 of P.L.1951, c.138 (C.30:4C-12); for guardianship pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1991, c.275 (C.30:4C-15.2); to determine placement pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1977, c.424 (C.30:4C-54); or in any other hearing that may be held during the course of child placement, permanency, or guardianship proceedings, or during the course of proceedings to terminate parental rights, pursuant to chapter 4C of Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.

     b.    No such statement, if uncorroborated, shall be sufficient to make a determination that termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child, or to make a fact finding of abuse or neglect.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would allow previous statements by a child concerning abuse or neglect to be admitted into evidence in certain child abuse and termination of parental rights cases. If such statements are admitted into evidence, the child can avoid testifying against his parent or guardian at trial. 

     Previous statements by a child are currently admissible as evidence in child abuse and neglect cases pursuant to paragraph (4) of subsection a. of section 26 of P.L.1974, c.119 (C.9:6-8.46). The statute specifies that no such statement, if uncorroborated, shall be sufficient to make a fact finding of abuse or neglect.

     In New Jersey Div. of Child Prot. & Permanency v. T.U.B.,     450 N.J. Super. 210 (App. Div. 2017), the Appellate Division ruled that this statutory provision applies only to child abuse or neglect cases brought under Title 9 of the Revised Statutes, and not to cases brought under Title 30 of the Revised Statutes seeking termination of parental rights.  The court noted that the Legislature "retains the ability to adopt a curative amendment" to extend the provision to termination of parental rights cases.  This bill would enact such an extension. The bill would also clarify that previous statements by a child are admissible in other proceedings pursuant to Title 30.

     The bill would add supplemental language to Title 30 that is similar to the language currently in Title 9. The bill would allow previous statements made by a child relating to any allegations of abuse or neglect to be admissible in evidence in any hearing: to terminate parental rights; to provide judicial review and approval of a permanency plan; to determine care and supervision or custody; for guardianship; to determine placement; or in any other hearing that may be held during the course of child placement, permanency, or guardianship proceedings, or during the course of proceedings to terminate parental rights.

     Under the bill, no such statement, if uncorroborated, would be sufficient to make a determination that termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child, or to make a fact finding of abuse or neglect.

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