Children are Losing Maryland's "Tender Years" War.
65 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2008
Date Written: Fall 1997
What seems like Maryland's version of the Hundred Years War continues to be fought in the Maryland General Assembly regarding the "tender years exception," a limited hearsay exception for statements made by children under twelve years old regarding physical or sexual abuse against them. Maryland's statute is much more restrictive than those of other states. Yet, year after year, attempts to liberalize it have been defeated in the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee, leaving Maryland's children significantly less protected from physical and sexual abuse than children living in other states. This Article first discusses the rationale for the tender years hearsay exception and the constitutional limits on admitting tender years hearsay. Next, it sets forth the history of Maryland's tender years statute. This Article then addresses each of the arguments that have been made over the years by opponents of liberalizing the statute and compares Maryland's tender years statute to those of other states. Finally, this Article recommends specific amendments to Maryland's tender years statute and proposes its incorporation into the Maryland Rules of Evidence.
Keywords: children, sexual abuse, physical abuse, Maryland, legislation, hearsay, evidence, tender years statute
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation