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During child welfare proceedings grasping the rules of evidence is essential to proving a case of child abuse or neglect. As a young lawyer being able to prepare witnesses with their testimony and understanding the admissibility of evidence and certain points of the proceeding is extremely important. Witnesses and attorneys should be aware of hearsay and the exceptions to it. Please refer to Federal Rules of Evidence 801 (c).
The following is a brief overview of the common exceptions to the hearsay rule applied to child welfare proceedings:
Various jurisdictions have additional hearsay exceptions to the Federal Rules. The young lawyer should of course familiarize herself with the state specific rules of evidence and prep the witnesses accordingly.
About the Author
Gloria M. Bruzzano, Esq., serves as the 2006-2007 American Bar Association, Young Lawyer's Division Children and the Law Chair and as the 2006-2007 ABA, YLD representative to the Coordinating Council of Unified Family Courts. She has worked on over 200 child abuse and neglect cases as Special Assistant Corporation Counsel for the Commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) in the South Bronx and in Manhattan. After two and a half years working for ACS, Ms. Bruzzano will be leading as child protection attorney for the nonprofit Sanctuary for Families, also in Manhattan, specializing in child welfare cases involving mothers who are victims of domestic violence. She currently serves on the NYC Mayor's Child Abuse Task Force, The Commercially and Sexually Exploited Children's Workgroup and is admitted to practice in both New York, New Jersey and Federal District Court of New Jersey.