Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Monday, June 07, 2004

Use of 'Victim' Barred at Bryant Trial: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers may have been victims of a devastating Pistons defense (no pity here), but at his criminal trial, his accuser will not be called "victim."

    In a ruling made public Monday, state District Judge Terry Ruckriegle said he agreed with Bryant's lawyers that the term implies guilt and should not be used at trial. He said she must be referred to by name; or in jury instructions, where she must be referred to as "person."

    "Its use under these circumstances could improperly suggest that a crime had been committed such that the presumption of innocence might be jeopardized," Ruckriegle said.

This is absolutely the correct ruling to make in this situation. Unlike in a murder, or a personal injury case, the exact question in a rape trial is whether or not the accuser was injured at all. As of now, with the presumption of innocence, the accuser is not a "victim" until the state proves its case.

This leads me to wonder, though, what if a civil trial had occurred first? I know that situation is unlikely, but it could happen if the state were to drag its feet or feel it needed more time to gather evidence. Hypothetically, a defendant could be found civilly liable for sexual assault (or whatever the civil equivalent of rape is). In that case, should the accuser be called "victim" at the later criminal trial. On the one hand, a jury has found that the accused was indeed injured, and the defendant was at fault.

However, this finding would be made using the less stringent "preponderance of the evidence" standard, rather than the criminal threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt." In addition, the presumption of innocence remains in a criminal trial, notwithstanding a finding of civil liability. Finally, the use of the term "victim" almost certainly will have some effect on the ability of the jury to equitably judge the defendant. Thus, while a harder case, it seems prudent to avoid using the term "victim" until after a criminal conviction is rendered.


howdy - you hvae an interesting blog and I enjoyed reading it! I know I like it when people appreciate my work, so I thought I would give you some credit!


fantasy football mock draft

Anonymous fantasy football mock draft -- 1/31/2006 9:03 PM  

Hey! I am out looking for fantasy footblal player rankings related blogs to read up on, but I found your great blog. Nice to see someone that actually puts time into their blog - hard to find these days it seems! See ya...


fantasy footblal player rankings

Anonymous fantasy footblal player rankings -- 2/02/2006 7:34 PM  

Post a Comment