Story by: Brianna Sims
The governor has signed a bill into law allowing expert court witnesses in cases of domestic violence to be able to present evidence of the effects of violence on victims and their children, as well as the risks abusers pose to the victims and children.
The bill was signed after it received unanimous passage in the House of Representatives.
Senator Kay Floyd and Representative Kevin West stated that in a court of action in Oklahoma, if a party offers evidence of domestic violence, testimony of an expert witness may include the effects of violence on the abused and will be admissible as evidence.
“It is not acceptable that expert testimony regarding the effects of domestic violence on children and other family members is excluded,” West said. “I am confident this will be a significant benefit to victims of domestic violence throughout our state, as well as a wake-up call for the abusers.”
Sen. Floyd said of the legislation, “Expert witnesses should be allowed to present research-based and data-driven testimony on the effects of domestic violence on children. This change is long overdue.”
Current statute does not allow testimony that includes the impact of domestic violence witnessed by children, nor does it allow information to be presented that shows the common traits of abusers, the various types of domestic violence, generational cycles of violence or treatment options.
Under the measure, expert testimony would still be subject to vigorous cross-examination, and the court would remain the gatekeeper for evidence and testimony presented at trial.
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