FATHER DOES NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO A TRANSCRIPT OF LINCOLN HEARING.
The Third Department, in rejecting father’s request for a transcript of a Lincoln hearing (in a custody matter), explained why children’s testimony in a Lincoln hearing must be kept confidential:
A child’s testimony in a Lincoln hearing in a proceeding pursuant to Family Ct Act article 6 is not akin to the testimony that may be taken from a child in proceedings pursuant to Family Ct Act article 10. In an article 10 proceeding, an adversarial relationship may exist between the child and the accused parent. As the child’s testimony may be the sole basis for a finding of abuse or neglect, the parent’s due process rights are implicated. Although there are circumstances in which a child’s testimony in such a proceeding may be obtained in camera or outside the presence of the respondent parent, this must be carefully balanced with the rights of the accused parent … .
By clear contrast, in a Family Ct Act article 6 proceeding, in which a Lincoln hearing may be conducted, such a hearing serves entirely different, nonadversarial purposes, and a parent’s constitutional rights are not implicated. The purpose of a Lincoln hearing is not primarily evidentiary; it is instead to assist the court in making the determination of what serves the best interests of the child. The Lincoln hearing is allowed as a manner of directly ascertaining the child’s wishes and may also serve to corroborate information that has been adduced on the record during the course of the fact-finding hearing … .
“[T]he right to confidentiality during a Lincoln hearing belongs to the child and is superior to the rights or preferences of the parents” … . Matter of Heasley v Morse, 2016 NY Slip Op 07883, 3rd Dept 11-23-16
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