February 21, 2019 Substantive Law

Ten Tips for How Judges Can More Effectively Communicate with Children in Court

By Judge Samuel A. Thumma and Chloe Braddock

Reprinted with permission The Judges’ Journal, Winter 2019, (58:1) at 12-16, produced by the ABA Judicial Division. ©2019 by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

Courtrooms are not particularly comfortable places for most people. This is especially true for children. When children are involved in court proceedings, it is important that they understand the questions they are asked and that what they say is understood. Adults often do not understand children because children’s language and processing skills are different and are still in the early stages of development given their limited experience with language.1 If a child is not understood, the truth-seeking process gets distorted, and the purpose of the judicial process is undercut.

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