SAVE THE DATE! Final Expert Testimony Institute- November 29-30, 2012

The Sexual Violence Justice Institute @ Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault will be hosting the last Expert Testimony Institute for the grant period in St. Paul, MN on Thursday, November 29 and Friday, November 30, 2012.
The application process will begin in September so watch for that announcement.

What is a Testimony Institute?

A Testimony Institute is a 2 day gathering of prosecutors, victim advocates and healthcare professionals who serve victims of sexual assault. The Institute will provide these professionals with an opportunity to better understand each others roles when it comes to working with sexual assault patients/cases and will outline how these roles may intersect when a sexual assault case goes to trial. Professionals will receive the education, tools and time to practice testimony preparation, and watch or participate in testimony-delivery and testimony-elicitation skills in a true-to-life courtroom setting. The opportunity to practice testimony skills, view sample testimony, as well as receive and provide feedback will reduce the anxiety that many professionals have associated with testifying.

Why are these Institutes being held?

The recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision State v. Obeta,796 N.W.2d 282 (Minn. 2011) creates an avenue for prosecutors to utilize general expert testimony in adult criminal sexual conduct cases to help explain victim behaviors that are commonly misunderstood by jurors such as delayed reporting or lack of physical resistance. SVJI has developed training curriculum for these Institutes to ensure that prosecutors and other professionals are aware of this new opportunity and understand when an expert might be warranted, and the limits of utilizing this type of testimony.

Where is the Institute being held?  St. Paul, MN

When is the Institute taking place? The Institute will take place from 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 29, and will conclude at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 30.

Who is the Testimony Institute for?

  • Prosecutors who handle criminal sexual conduct cases.
  • Highly experienced sexual assault advocates who have completed the 40 hour training, have worked with a large number of sexual assault victims over the course of 5+ years of in the sexual assault field and are interested in the possibility of becoming expert witnesses in adult criminal sexual conduct cases. Direct service advocates and Program Directors who meet these requirements are encouraged to apply. Due to the nature of the Institute, priority will be given to community based advocates.
  • Experienced healthcare professionals who are directly involved in delivery of the medical forensic exam for sexual assault patients and who have the potential to be called to testify as a fact witness or an expert witness based on their experience with sexual assault exams/patients. This may include RNs, Physicians or Physician’s Assistants, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, etc.

What credits are available to those who attend?
The Testimony Institute should qualify for CEU credits for RNs or SANEs and both standard and ethics CLE credits will be available for prosecutors.

What is the cost of attending?   Registration costs for the St. Paul Testimony Institute are as follows: Prosecutors  $60, Healthcare Professionals $50,  Advocates:  MNCASA members $25,  Non-Members $35

Will scholarships be available?  Yes, a limited number of scholarships are available to help participants cover mileage and lodging expenses. Scholarships will work on a reimbursement basis meaning that they will be paid after the Institute upon submission of proper documentation. You will have the opportunity to indicate interest in scholarship assistance on the application form.

What do I need to know about applying for the Institute? Due to the participatory nature of the Testimony Institute, space is limited. The application process will open in September and you are advised to submit your application as soon as possible.  A wait list will be established once all spots have been filled. Due to space limitations and the desire for broad representation, any more than 2 applicants from a single organization will be wait listed.  Priority will be given to local applicants for the first two weeks but all are encouraged to apply.

What if I have questions about the Testimony Institute? Please contact Melia Garza, Expert Testimony Project Coordinator with the SVJI @ MNCASA. Melia can be reached at or 651-209-9993 x212.

What have past attendees said about the Institute?

From Prosecutors:  

  • “Realistic. Useful to my practice.”
  • “Very good use of participants time.”
  • “It was my pleasure to attend.  I learned a lot.  It’s great to be able to connect with others doing this work.  Thank your for organizing the training.”

From Advocates:

  •  “Excellent experience- appreciate the “hands on” experience.”
  •  “I appreciate that this was an advanced training and it exceeded my expectations. The small size of participants allowed more discussion amongst the group.”
  •  “Thank you, it was a great experience. I am so glad I was able to practice!! I can’t say enough about that.”

From Healthcare:

  • “All elements were a benefit to me. Thank you. Great education.”
  • “Overall awesome experience!”
  • “Very helpful. I would come back just to learn and review.”