Friday, May 04, 2007

Not Meeting Expectations Doesn't Equal No Rape

This section of a story about the Hinson Rape trial which ended in acquittal reveals a dangerous attitude not just in jurors, but in anyone who has the power to decide how a rape case will proceed.

Mention of anything connected with Hinson's previous rape conviction was barred from testimony to prevent the jury being swayed against Hinson. But jurors learned of it from an oversight in admitting a 911 logbook that says: "(One girl) STATES WAS RAPED BY MOTHER'S BOYFRIEND AT (address) HE IS FORMER SEX OFFEDER(sic) KENNETH HENSON(sic)." Rather than helping the prosecution, it raised doubts in the mind of jury foreman Thomas Williams, a former director of a 911 system, because he said rape victims don't usually mention the history of their attacker in their first call to police.

The reason most rape victims wouldn't mention this fact would be that they didn't know it. Just because someone knows a fact and believes that it will be important to law enforcement doesn't mean it is a setup.

That conclusion is pure speculation and criminal cases need to be decided based only on the evidence. This same fallacy is exploited when a previously scruffy defendant is cleaned up and dressed up until he looks like he couldn't hurt a fly.

The defendant's appearance has been shown to sway how people would judge a case where the evidence is identical and only the defendant's picture changed. Those who looked more like we expect criminals to look were more likely to be judged guilty and to be assigned harsher sentences.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:58 PM   1 comments links to this post


At May 11, 2007 5:19 PM, Blogger The Speaker said...

Still pissed about this and probably will be for years to come.


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