SENATE AMENDED

 

PRIOR PRINTER'S NOS. 1387, 3273

PRINTER'S NO.  3643

  

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

  

HOUSE BILL

 

No.

1264

Session of

2011

  

  

INTRODUCED BY PARKER, HARPER, BISHOP, B. BOYLE, K. BOYLE, BRADFORD, BRENNAN, BRIGGS, R. BROWN, V. BROWN, BROWNLEE, CALTAGIRONE, CARROLL, CLYMER, D. COSTA, CREIGHTON, DAVIS, DAVIDSON, DePASQUALE, FLECK, FREEMAN, GINGRICH, GRELL, HARHART, HENNESSEY, HESS, HORNAMAN, JOSEPHS, KIRKLAND, KORTZ, KULA, LONGIETTI, MAHER, McGEEHAN, MICOZZIE, MIRABITO, MUNDY, MYERS, M. O'BRIEN, PAYTON, PICKETT, QUINN, REICHLEY, ROEBUCK, ROSS, SABATINA, SANTARSIERO, SHAPIRO, STURLA, VEREB, VULAKOVICH, WAGNER, WATSON, WHEATLEY, WILLIAMS, YOUNGBLOOD, PETRI, FARRY, RAPP, DERMODY, MURT AND DELOZIER, APRIL 1, 2011

  

  

AMENDED ON THIRD CONSIDERATION, JUNE 4, 2012   

  

  

  

AN ACT

  

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Amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the

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Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in depositions and

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witnesses, providing for expert testimony in certain criminal

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proceedings.

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The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:

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(1)  Research indicates that victims of sex crimes behave

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in many different ways, but because of the prevalence and

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persistence of myths and misunderstandings regarding sex

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crimes, jurors often perceive common victim behaviors as

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counterintuitive and mistakenly believe that they are

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compelling evidence of a victim's lack of credibility.

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(2)  One of the misconceptions of jurors is that a sexual

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assault victim would ordinarily be expected to make a prompt

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complaint to law enforcement authorities. As such, jurors

 


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often incorrectly draw an adverse inference against the

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credibility of a sexual assault victim.

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(3)  Jurors bring their biases into the jury room and the

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process of jury selection often fails to reveal jurors'

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mistaken beliefs about crimes of sexual violence and victim

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responses to sex crimes.

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(4)  To overcome these myths and misunderstandings

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related to victim behavior, many courts have recognized that

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expert testimony is necessary to provide jurors with the

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proper context in which to evaluate a victim's behaviors.

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(5)  Counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, victim

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advocates, social workers and others who work with sexual

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assault victims possess specialized knowledge about common

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victim behaviors and victim responses to trauma and that

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expertise is beyond the experience and knowledge of the

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average juror.

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(6)  Without an accurate context in which to evaluate

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victim behaviors, it is common for jurors to fail to

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recognize a victim's behavior as a common response to trauma.

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The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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hereby enacts as follows:

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Section 1.  Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated

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Statutes is amended by adding a section to read:

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§ 5920.  Expert testimony in certain criminal proceedings.

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(a)  Scope.--This section applies to all of the following:

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(1)  A criminal proceeding for an offense for which

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registration is required under section 9795.1 (relating to

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registration) Subchapter H of Chapter 97 (relating to

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registration of sexual offenders).

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(2)  A criminal proceeding for an offense under 18 

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Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).

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(b)  Rule.--In an action subject to this section, a witness

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Pa.C.S. Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses).

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(b)  Qualifications and use of experts.--

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(1)  In a criminal proceeding subject to this section, a

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witness may be qualified by the court as an expert if the

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witness has specialized knowledge beyond that possessed by

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the average layperson based on the witness' witness's 

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knowledge, skill, experience, training or education 

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experience with, or specialized training or education in,

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criminal justice, behavioral sciences or victim services

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issues, related to sexual violence, that will assist the

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trier of fact in understanding the dynamics of sexual

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violence, victim responses to sexual violence and the impact

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of sexual violence on victims during and after being

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assaulted. If qualified as an expert, the

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(2)  If qualified as an expert, the witness may testify

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to facts and opinions regarding specific types of victim

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response responses and victim behaviors. The witness'

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(3)  The witness's opinion regarding the credibility of

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any other witness, including the victim, shall not be

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admissible.

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(4)  A witness qualified by the court as an expert under

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this section may be called by the attorney for the

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Commonwealth or the defendant to provide the expert

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testimony.

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Section 2.  The addition of 42 Pa.C.S. § 5920 shall apply to

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actions initiated on or after the effective date of this

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section.

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Section 3.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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