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Senate approves legal hearsay changes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Senate has approved a bill that would keep crime victims off the witness stand during the early stages of their cases.

The bill would allow hearsay evidence during preliminary hearings, the step in the legal process in which a judge decides if there’s enough evidence to order a trial. Hearsay evidence — testimony that quotes someone who isn’t available to testify — is generally prohibited in preliminary hearings because cross-examination would be more difficult.

The bill’s changes would mean prosecutors could call a single police officer to the stand to recount every element of the case, from the victim’s story to scientific findings.

The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote with no debate Tuesday. It now goes to the state Assembly.

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