Supplementary note submitted by Lee Moore, Lee Moore & Co. (on behalf of Mr Peter Garsden), following the evidence session on 11 June 2002
COURTROOM SKILLS TRAINING
Mr Garsden has asked me to provide you with details about the content of the courtroom skills course, so that he can discharge his undertaking to you.
Witness training has been present in this country for about the last eight years. The police, inland revenue, customs and excise, expert, professional and witnesses of fact et al partake of this training. For more information see www.bondsolon.com.
The adversarial nature of the legal process mirrors the traumagenic dynamics of sexual abuse. Witnesses of sexual assault experience internal and external triggers which can be conscious and/or unconscious, these provoke emotional, behavioural and other psychological responses which frequently impede the effective presentation of written and oral evidence as witnesses who are victims of sexual assault are being re-traumatised.
Straw polls performed by the undersigned are disclosing that most adults who have been abused in childhood attempt suicide prior, during or after criminal court proceedings. Twenty-five per cent are successful. Official research is most certainly required on this, as there are probably huge costs to the public purse and cases prosecutions could well be foundering as witnesses are unable to present their evidence effectively or are too terrified to testify.
It is therefore highly efficacious for witnesses to be trained in the effective presentation of evidence, which can reduce the trauma to the witnesses, facilitate the presentation of evidence and save costs.
1. Qualities for presenting evidence e.g. honest, truthful, focused, clear, concise etc.
2. De-mystifying the legal process. Explaining how the adversarial process mirrors abuse, the nature of triggers, court procedures, processes, roles, who to look at, etiquette.
3. Preparation including how to deal with triggers, support, etc.
4. Techniques lawyers use on cross-examination and how they replicate abuse.
5. How to minimize the stress of cross-examination, remain focused and answer questions honestly, truthfully and clearly.
6. Visualisations for people who are receptive to the technique.
7. Cross-examination on hypothetical case study.
8. Review of fears, issues and concerns.