Section 15-25-2

Prosecution for physical or sexual offense or exploitation involving child under age 16 - Videotaped deposition; who may be present; procedure; protective order.

(a) In any criminal prosecution referred to in Section 15-25-1, the court, upon motion of the district attorney or Attorney General, for good cause shown and after notice to the defendant, may order the taking of a videotaped deposition of an alleged victim of or witness to the crime who is under the age of 16 at the time of the order.

(b) On any motion for a videotaped deposition of the victim or a witness, the court shall consider the age and maturity of the child, the nature of the offense, the nature of testimony that may be expected, and the possible effect that the testimony in person at trial may have on the victim or witness, along with any other relevant matters that may be required by Supreme Court rule.

(c) During the taping of a videotaped deposition authorized pursuant to this section, the following persons shall be in the room with the child: The prosecuting attorney, the attorney for the defendant, and a person whose presence, in the judgment of the court, contributes to the well-being of the child and who has dealt with the child in a therapeutic setting regarding the abuse. Additional persons, such as the parent or parents or legal guardian, other than the defendant, may be admitted into the room in the discretion of the court.

(d) Examination and cross-examination of the alleged victim or witness shall proceed at the taking of the videotaped deposition as though the alleged victim or witness were testifying personally in the trial of the case. The state shall provide the attorney for the defendant with reasonable access and means to view and hear the videotaped deposition at a suitable and reasonable time prior to the trial of the case. Objections to the introduction into the record of such deposition shall be heard by the judge in whose presence the deposition was taken, and unless the court determines that its introduction in lieu of the victim's or witness's actual appearance as a witness at the trial will unfairly prejudice the defendant, such videotaped deposition shall be entered into the record by the state in lieu of the direct testimony of the alleged victim or witness and shall be viewed and heard at the trial of the case.

(e) For the purposes of this section, "videotaped deposition" means the visual recording on a magnetic tape, together with the associated sound of a witness testifying under oath to be entered in the record in a judicial proceeding.

(f) The Supreme Court may adopt rules of procedure regarding the taking and use of videotaped depositions in criminal proceedings and juvenile cases, as well as for the transcribing of such in the event the case is thereafter appealed.

(g) All costs associated with the videotaping of a deposition ordered pursuant to this article shall be paid by the state. The district attorney shall submit all such cost bills to the state Comptroller for approval and payment from the fund entitled Court Costs Not Otherwise Provided For.

(h) All videotapes ordered pursuant to this article shall be subject to any protective order of the court for the purpose of protecting the privacy of the victim of the offense.

(i) When necessary, the operator of the videotaping equipment may also be in the room and the operator shall make every effort to be unobtrusive.

(j) Only the court, the prosecuting attorney, and the attorney for the defendant may question the child victim or witness. During the testimony of the child, the defendant shall be provided access to view the testimony out of the presence of the child and shall be allowed to communicate with his or her attorney by any appropriate election method.

(k) This section shall not apply when the defendant is an attorney pro se.

(Acts 1985, No. 85-743, p. 1143, §2; Act 2007-391, p. 782, §1.)