Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lawyer To Challenge Arkansas Rape Shield Laws

From NWA Online:

The attorney for a man accused of rape and sexual assault says the state's rape shield law harms his client's right to a fair trial and is unconstitutional. Tim Parker filed a notice Friday he intends to challenge the law before the trial of Michael Reagan of Springdale.
The defendant used to be a high school basketball coach and the victims which his attorney believe are being shielded illegally in this particular case are 2 boys.

The problem with basing this challenge on the defendant's constitutional rights is that these constitutional rights belong to all of us -- including those of us who have been raped. Yet due process rights and the right to not have purely prejudicial evidence admitted at trial are often viewed as only applying to those accused of sex crimes not those who report those types of crimes.

The rape shield laws need to be protected so that sex crime trials don't turn into unbridled attacks on victims. These personal attacks serve 2 purposes. The first is to sway a judge or jury. The second is to sway victims out of reporting or cooperating with the police and prosecution.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:27 PM   1 comments links to this post

1 Comments:

At August 08, 2009 11:30 AM, Blogger LLH said...

I think it unlikely that he will be successful unless there is something unusual about the rape shield laws in that jurisdiction. They are pretty well established.

There are significant exceptions to rape shield laws that allow for information to be admitted that would protect the due process rights of the accused. For example, although it is inadmissible to attack the sexual history of the victim, you can get in questions about their sexual history if it is for the limited purpose of establishing that there is another potential doer of the rape or that there was consent. Judge's discretion in these matters makes it possible to determine if the information is being used for the right purposes.

A better use of this lawyer's time, if he or she is trying to do something for accused rapists, would be to lobby for more training for judges on how to handle these matters.

But I think he or she is just trying to get their client off, and I dont think that on this challenge alone they can do it.

 

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