Maybe judges need some education about rape (and juries) too

23Jan07

CourtroomJust as I was thinking “Someone should do something about this” about juries in rape trials, it turns out that somebody was. Reforms to rape trials were in the pipeline. Note that word: were.

Judges are opposing the reforms, saying they are too complex, according to the Guardian:

But the judges have rejected all the principal proposals, which include:

  • A new statutory definition of capacity to consent to sexual intercourse, which would clarify when a woman can be considered too drunk to make the decision.
  • The use of expert witnesses in court to help dispel “rape myths” and inform the jury how rape victims are likely to act. Although this routinely happens in the US, judges here believe their use would cause delays and prove expensive, unnecessary and “inappropriate”.
  • Showing videotaped interviews with victims filmed when they first go to the police. Ministers said this would bring home to jurors the victims’ distress. But the judges are concerned that this would be too emotive and not help establish the truth of the allegations. They argue that some people are particularly good at faking distress. [my emphasis]

The judges are apparently urging ministers to have faith in the common sense of jurors. Well, we’ve just had an excellent demonstration of why that just doesn’t work.

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