PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A group of criminal justice system officials, focusing on Philadelphia, has announced two new initiatives: a best-practices guide book for judges to deal with the pervasive problem of victim-witness threats and intimidation, and a court rule change that will spare victims from coming to court to state the obvious.
District Attorney Seth Williams says the new rule will spare victims of property crimes from coming to court to attest to ownership and non-permission at the preliminary hearing stage. They would still have to testify at trial.
“If the person is just going to say, look, it’s my house, pookie or man-man, whoever, did not have my permission to be there. That’s what this does. There are so many witnesses who come to court over and over and over. They lose a day’s salary. They come in as very willing participants and leave as frustrated and bitter people,” Williams says.
Beyond convenience, authorities say this should also reduce the incidents of witness intimidation during the often plodding judicial process.
Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio