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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Bryant Case and Rape Shield Law: The judge in the Kobe Bryant criminal case has ruled that Bryant's accuser must testify in a close hearing on March 24-25. In addition, the judge has ruled that the defense can question the woman about her relevant sex history, including the her sexual activity in the days surrounding the incident. The prosecution says the ruling goes against Colorado's rape shield law, which makes the sexual history of the victim irrelevant. The prosecution plans to appeal the ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Contrary to the prosecution, I feel this is the proper ruling in this case. The rape shield law is not absolute -- if the defense convinces the judge that the information could be relevant, the judge should allow the defendant to make the best defense possible. The rape shield laws serve an important public policy, encouraging victims to report incidents of rape and preventing possibly prejudicial information from influencing the jury. However, we must not forget that our system believes in innocence until guilt is proven and the right of defendants to a full defense. If the information is deemed relevant and the judge exercises significant control to ensure that the victim's rights are protected, waiving the rape shield law represents the best method to ensure a fair trial for both sides.

For more, read this earlier post from Alas, a Blog.


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