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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2020 10:32 AM
From: Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Expert Witnesses in Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Cases
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce my legislation, Senate Bill 1170, which will amend the Judicial Code to permit the Commonwealth to call expert witnesses in cases of domestic violence and human trafficking in order to explain victim behavior.
In a number of court cases, the Commonwealth is permitted to have expert witnesses with a specialized knowledge to a particular subject matter to testify to the facts of a case.  Specifically, there is a portion of the Judicial Code which speaks to expert witnesses in cases of sexual violence to testify to the understanding of the dynamics of sexual violence, victim responses to sexual violence, and the impact of sexual violence on victims during and after being assaulted.
These types of expert witnesses have been crucial to helping jurors understand the tremendous trauma that a sexual assault can have on a victim and how that trauma can affect their behaviors and their overall health.  Seeing how valuable these experts have been to providing justice to victims of sexual assault, and the links between the crimes, I believe these expert witnesses should also be permitted in cases of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Previous co-sponsors to this legislation were:  Bartolotta, J. Ward, Mastriano, Stefano, Phillips-Hill, Brewster, Muth, Tartaglione, Costa and Hughes.  In addition, Senate Bill 1170 passed the Senate unanimously on September 9, 2020. 

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB81