Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alleged Victim Banned From Saying Rape Refuses To Sign Waiver

This is an update on the case I blogged about previously which included a list of other words and concepts which need to be banned in order for this ban to be neutral and not pro-rapist.

On Monday, Bowen and her attorney informed Judge Jeffre Cheuvront that they would not sign an order agreeing not to use terms like "rape" during courtroom testimony. The judge will hold a hearing on Tuesday to address Bowen's unwillingness to sign the order. Bowen has said she'll go to jail to defend her right to free speech.

Since small things like pauses before an alleged victim answers a question could be seen by a jury as a sign of deception, refusing to sign the judge's order is the right thing to do -- even if it comes at a high personal cost for a rape victim.

I would never ask a rape victim to make this sacrifice or demand it since the price for doing so could be too high for that person and because that's a decision which belongs to the individual.

The defense attorney supports the judge and is spinning that support as altruistic, but his support for this ruling is absolutely self-serving. Muzzled victims help defense attorneys get the outcome they want. And that outcome isn't a neutral justice system.

Update (7/12): The judge has declared a mistrial because of Ms. Bowen's refusal to sign the agreement to not use the banned words and because of the publicity surrounding the judge's selection of banned words. The case will go back to the prosecutors and I hope this judge will recuse himself from any further involvement with this case since his decisions are being officially disputed.

Update (7/13): From CNN:

In a written explanation of his ruling, Cheuvront said Bowen and her friends drummed up pretrial publicity that tainted potential jurors.

They signed a petition decrying the word ban and posted it on a Web site that encouraged people to gather in front of the courthouse Monday to protest, Cheuvront wrote. Monday was the first day of jury selection; another rally occurred Wednesday.

"The inescapable conclusion from the petition promoting the rally is that Ms. Bowen and her friends hoped to intimidate this court and interfere with the selection of a fair and impartial jury," Cheuvront wrote in his order released Thursday afternoon.

This conclusion is only inescapable if he doesn't have a clue about why his rulings has rape victims, rape survivors and those who care about them justifiably upset. His conclusion makes it clear to me that he either doesn't understand how his previous rulings, and the decision that the jury must not know about the restrictions, prejudices the jury unfairly toward an acquital or he just doesn't care.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:35 PM   0 comments links to this post

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