Winking at the Jury: “Implicit Vouching” Versus the Limits on Opinions About Credibility

This Article presents empirical data about a common kind of testimony: descriptions by professionals of what alleged child-abuse victims said to them in interviews. The data suggest that these professionals tend to identify with the children they interview and often believe they can recognize truthful statements. These beliefs likely affect how the professionals testify, to produce “implicit vouching” for the children’s statements despite evidence law’s general prohibition of opinion testimony about the truthfulness of a victim’s statement. Allowing explicit testimony about credibility would resolve this conflict by permitting examination of the reasons for the witness’s opinion about the child’s credibility. This could make fact-finding more authentic and more reliable.