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  S.B. No. 578
  relating to the testimony of children in criminal cases.
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 38, Code of Criminal Procedure, is
  amended by adding Article 38.074 to read as follows:
         Sec. 1.  In this article:
               (1)  "Child" has the meaning assigned by Section
  22.011(c), Penal Code.
               (2)  "Support person" means any person whose presence
  would contribute to the welfare and well-being of a child.
         Sec. 2.  This article applies to the testimony of a child in
  any hearing or proceeding in the prosecution of any offense, other
  than the testimony of a child in a hearing or proceeding in a
  criminal case in which that child is the defendant.
         Sec. 3.  (a)  A court shall:
               (1)  administer an oath to a child in a manner that
  allows the child to fully understand the child's duty to tell the
               (2)  ensure that questions asked of the child are
  stated in language appropriate to the child's age;
               (3)  explain to the child that the child has the right
  to have the court notified if the child is unable to understand any
  question and to have a question restated in a form that the child
  does understand;
               (4)  ensure that a child testifies only at a time of day
  when the child is best able to understand the questions and to
  undergo the proceedings without being traumatized, including:
                     (A)  limiting the duration of the child's
                     (B)  limiting the timing of the child's testimony
  to the child's normal school hours; or
                     (C)  ordering a recess during the child's
  testimony when necessary for the energy, comfort, or attention span
  of the child; and
               (5)  prevent intimidation or harassment of the child by
  any party and, for that purpose, rephrase as appropriate any
  question asked of the child.
         (b)  On the motion of any party, or a parent, managing
  conservator, guardian, or guardian ad litem of a child or special
  advocate for a child, the court shall allow the child to have a toy,
  blanket, or similar comforting item in the child's possession while
  testifying or allow a support person to be present in close
  proximity to the child during the child's testimony if the court
  finds by a preponderance of the evidence that:
               (1)  the child cannot reliably testify without the
  possession of the item or presence of the support person, as
  applicable; and
               (2)  granting the motion is not likely to prejudice the
  trier of fact in evaluating the child's testimony.
         (c)  A support person who is present during a child's
  testimony may not:
               (1)  obscure the child from the view of the defendant or
  the trier of fact;
               (2)  provide the child with an answer to any question
  asked of the child; or
               (3)  assist or influence the testimony of the child.
         (d)  The court may set any other conditions and limitations
  on the taking of the testimony of a child that it finds just and
  appropriate, considering the interests of the child, the rights of
  the defendant, and any other relevant factors.
         SECTION 2.  The change in law made by this Act applies to a
  criminal proceeding that commences on or after the effective date
  of this Act.  A criminal proceeding that commences before the
  effective date of this Act is covered by the law in effect when the
  proceeding commenced, and the former law is continued in effect for
  that purpose.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2011.
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 578 passed the Senate on
  May 12, 2011, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.
  Secretary of the Senate    
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 578 passed the House on
  May 23, 2011, by the following vote:  Yeas 142, Nays 0, one
  present not voting.
  Chief Clerk of the House