Republican bill would re-work vicim testimony in trials

CREATED Feb 12, 2012

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Madison, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican bill would rework a century-old step in Wisconsin's criminal justice system in an effort to spare crime victims from testifying.
The measure would allow hearsay evidence at preliminary hearings, the point where a judge or magistrate decides whether a defendant should stand trial. Hearsay evidence includes testimony or documents that quote people who aren't in court and isn't allowed in preliminary hearings.
The bill in effect would allow police officers to testify about what a victim told them or what other criminal experts found at the scene, eliminating the need for victims, detectives, crime lab technicians and a host of other witnesses to testify.
Supporters say the change would spare traumatized victims pain and save money. Opponents counter the bill would eliminate a layer of protection for defendants.