Testifying in Court - pg. 4

Court Introduction

Initial Questions

  • Please state your full name. Spell your last name for court records. [Note: have witness also spell out first name if the spelling is unusual]
  • What is your business address? [Use CASA program office address]
  • Are you the CASA volunteer assigned to this case?
  • What is your understanding of the CASA volunteer's role?
  • Over your course of involvement with the CASA program, approximately how many cases of child abuse/neglect have you served on? What types of cases have these been?
  • Do you handle primarily one kind of case? What kind?
  • Have you received any specialized training to assist you in your role as a CASA volunteer? Describe your training and the dates you completed each training type.
  • What is your educational background? Describe where, when, and in what field you received your degrees.
  • Are you a member of any professional organization? What organization?
  • What other education, job, or life experience have you had in dealing with children?

Expert Qualifying Questions

  • If the intention is to qualify the CASA volunteer witness as an expert in the field of child psychology, child development, sexual deviancy, etc., further questions should be asked regarding education and work experience in that particular area.
  • After these qualifying questions, the attorney would then ask the court to qualify the witness as an expert in the particular area of expertise.
Continued Questions for Specific Phases of Trial (i.e. Termination of Parental Rights)

Fact Finding Phase

  • When did you first become involved in this case?
  • What were the circumstances that led to your involvement in the case?
  • What did you do upon being assigned to the case? Files reviewed? Contact with professionals?
  • What has been your contact with the child/parent(s)? Upon your initial contact with the child/parent(s), what did you observe regarding the condition of the child/parent(s)?
  • Did you talk to the parent about the allegations of the Child Protective Services' (CPS) referral?
  • Following your contact with the child/parent, what did you do?
  • Is the child currently placed out of the home? What has been the visitation pattern?
  • Did you observe any of the visits? Where? When? How many?
  • Describe for the court the parent child interaction during the visits. Did the interaction/ lack of interaction concern you in any way? Why/why not?
  • What was the child's reaction before/during/after the visitation? Did you find the child's reaction to be of significance? In what way?
  • Approximately how many hours have you spent on this case?
  • What records or reports have you reviewed in conjunction with this case?
  • What court hearings have you attended during your time on this case?
  • Do you feel the child's parent is capable of providing adequate care for the child? What is the basis of your opinion?
  • Do you feel the child's parent is capable of understanding/meeting the physical/emotional needs of the child? What is the basis of your opinion?
  • Do you feel the child's parent is capable of protecting the child from further abuse? What is the basis of your opinion?

Dispositional Phase

  • What is your recommendation regarding placement of the child? If you are recommending a specific relative placement, why? What is the basis for your recommendation?
  • What harm, if any, would there be if the child were returned home today?
  • What is your recommendation regarding visitation? What is the basis for this recommendation?
  • What effect would there be upon the child's welfare if visits were more frequent/longer in duration/unsupervised?
  • What services are you recommending for the child/parent? Why? Explain why each particular service is needed and how it will assist in resolving the problems that led to court intervention. 

Termination Phase

  • Use questions above through Fact-Finding Phase, where appropriate.
  • Did you talk to the parent about what s/he needed to do to have the child returned home? Did the parent appear to understand the requirements necessary to have the child returned home?
  • Did the parent express a willingness to participate in court ordered services? Were services offered or provided? What services?
  • Since you have been assigned the case, what services has the parent successfully completed?
  • Can you think of any services that have not yet been offered which could help the parent become able to care for the child within the foreseeable future? Is that service available in this community?
  • Describe the child's development/adjustment generally. Does the child have any special needs? If so,describe.
  • Have you consulted with any professionals in regards to the parent/child on this case? With whom? When?
  • Have any evaluations been ordered of the parent/child in this case? What evaluations? Were those evaluations completed? Did you review the results of those evaluations?
  • What have been the visitation arrangements between the parent and the child? Has the parent attended visits regularly? Why or why not?
  • How long has the child been placed in is/her current home? Is this a relative placement? Have relative placements been investigated? In how many homes has this child been placed?
  • If parental rights were terminated, could the child be placed into a permanent home?
  • Does continuation of the parent/child relationship diminish the child's prospects for early integration into a stable and permanent home? Why?
  • Based upon the records and documents you have reviewed, your observations and discussions with the parties, and your consultation with professionals, do you have a recommendation for the court regarding termination of parental rights for this child?
  • Do you feel that termination of parental rights is in this child's best interest?
  • Did you consider a legal guardianship or other alternative case plan? Why do you feel a guardianship or other plan is not appropriate?
  • If parental rights were not terminated or if a decision regarding the termination were postponed, would there be any harm to the child? Why or why not? 

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