chapter  8
12 Pages

The Child Witness, the Courts, and Psychological Research

A friend who is a public defender and from time to time defends cases in which children appear as witnesses tells me that in his closing arguments he calls the jury's attention to a closing argument made by a prosecutor in one of the Salem witch trials 300 years ago. As you may recall, those trials resulted in the hanging of 19 women and the pressing to death of a 20th who refused to make a plea at her trial. The witnesses at these trials testified that they had seen the defendants engage in variety of bizarre supernatural behaviors. According to my friend, the prosecutor in one of these cases referred to two girls who had testified against one defendant and rhetorically asked what possible reason the two girls had to lie about the supernatural behaviors they had witnessed.