Archive for the ‘Court ban on "rape"’ Category

My Camera Editorial Advisory Board comment published on Aug. 4, 2007 in response to the Camera’s question: Are judges justified in forbidding the use of the word “rape” in sexual-assault trials? A judge in Nebraska is the most recent to make this ruling?

Countless attorneys have approached those on the witness stand and asked them to tell the court in their own words what happened. This approach seems straightforward and productive in determining the best legal course. Then, along came Judge Jeffre Cheuvront in Lincoln, Neb., with his court-ordered language ban in a sexual assault case.

No one, not even the woman claiming to be a victim of rape, could use the words rape, victim or assailant. Later, neither could any use the terms “sexual assault kit” and “sexual assault nurse.” I find Judge Cheuvront’s ban as silly as a mother asking her two dueling youngsters what happened and then forbidding them from using the phrase, “He hit me.” 

These words do not sufficiently prejudice carefully selected jurors as to prevent a fair trial any more than the words “hate crime” or “murder” would. Attorneys have the responsibility to weed out those who would deliver knee-jerk justice when certain words are used. Given the opportunity, I trust attorneys can do that. I also trust that numerous potential jurors can judge fairly without word bans.

*This title was not part of the original Camera publication.

Source: Daily Camera

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