Voters to decide Constitutional Amendment - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Voters to decide Constitutional Amendment

By Darren Pai

(KHNL) - Children, prosecutors say, do not always make the best witnesses during a criminal trial. Especially when it comes to cases involving multiple allegations of sexual assault over a prolonged period of time.

"The problem a lot of times is a minor cannot recall three specific dates, they could recall that it happened over a continuous period of time," said Rep. Sylvia Luke, House judiciary chair.

A proposed change to the state constitution would give juries more flexibility to deliver a unanimous guilty verdict in such cases.

"The twelve members of the jury just have to find that there were three incidents but not completely agree on the specifics of it," Luke said.

Honolulu city prosecutor Peter Carlisle said: "The measure of a society is how we take care of those most vulnerable and we're trying to protect small children."

But opponents call the proposal unconstitutional, saying it violates a defendant's right to due process and makes it too easy for the prosecution to gain a conviction. Critics say supporters of the amendment are trying to give voters the appearance they are tough on crime.

"The emotions here overlook the real issues, whether we're going to sacrifice real rights," said defense attorney Earle Partington.

Powered by Frankly