County attorney supports bill to prevent required examinations of victims
The local county attorney is supporting a proposed state law that would prohibit judges from requiring victims undergo psychological examinations during the prosecution of criminal cases.
County Attorney Todd Thompson recently testified in favor of Senate Bill 204 as a representative of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association. Thompson is the president of the organization.
The language of the proposed bill states, “In any prosecution for a crime, a court shall not require or order a victim of the crime to submit to or undergo either a psychiatric or psychological examination.”
While the bill, if approved, would apply to victims of all crimes, Thompson said the bill is aimed at eliminating the psychological examination of victims of sexual abuse at the request the defendants charged with the crimes.
Thompson said a 1979 Kansas Supreme Court decision in the case of State v. Gregg left open the door for judges to order such examinations.
In the decision, the Kansas Supreme Court justices ruled a “trial judge has the discretion to order a psychiatric examination of the complaining witness in a sex crime case if the defendant presents a compelling reason for such examination.”
Thompson said this is a “biased misogynistic law that is outdated, archaic.” And he said it applies only to sexual assault cases.
“And that doesn’t make sense either,” he said.
He said there have been three requests for this type of evaluation this year in Leavenworth County cases. He said one of the requests has been approved, and prosecutors are asking the judge to reconsider this decision.
Even if Senate Bill 204 is approved, Thompson said defense attorneys will still have the ability to challenge the testimony of victims.
“There’s all sorts of methods and procedures to challenge the validity of a witness,” he said.
The bill is now under consideration in the Judiciary Committee of the Kansas House of Representatives after it was placed on what is known as a consent calendar in the state Senate. The consent calendar was approved in the Senate on Tuesday by a 38-0 vote, according to a website for the Kansas Legislature.