Thursday, April 14, 2005

Clear and Convincing Evidence

Late last night the State Affairs Committee heard testimony regarding the potential impact of one of HB 1212’s provisions, the clear and convincing evidence standard requirement. Current law requires the judge to find by a "preponderance of evidence" that a minor meets the requirements for a bypass. HB 1212 would elevate that standard to "clear and convincing evidence." Professor Albright testified that this standard is a much tougher standard of proof.

Bypasses are granted under the notification act if the minor meets a low threshold of proof and establishes, by a preponderance of the evidence, that she is mature and adequately well informed enough to make the abortion decision without notifying her parents; or that notification is not in her best interest; or that notification might lead to her physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Rep. King fails to identify what his bill would require for a minor to demonstrate in court to convince a judge of “clear and convincing evidence.” Albright contends the bill would raise the court's factual determination by requiring the minor provide a stronger showing of abuse like a black eye or bruise marks; and it would increase court costs by requiring the court to appoint a guardian ad litem different from the attorney ad litem. If Rep. King wants to convince others that his bill is necessary, maybe he should apply the clear and convincing evidence standard to his own actions.