Banana Fanna Fo Accuser

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New at Reason: Cathy Young joins the debate over naming accused rapists but not their alleged victims, and what this does to the presumption of innocence.

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  1. I think that Ms. Young nails the wrongs of the rape shield law. However, lawmakers are the type to be easily swayed by emotion and the threats of lost votes…Almost all of the debate focuses on the rights of the woman vs. the accused…balancing those differences is difficult once someone begins to ignore the fundamental rights of the Constitution. Our present legal system has inherited a past that has “read” new rights into the “living” constitution.
    How vain of judges to think that our founders were unable to comprehend the wrongs of today…One of the most incomprehensible outbreaks of law and emotion came during the Salem witch trials where mere accusations were enough to effect a death penalty upon those who stuck by their convictions and who were mostly unable to face their accuser for fear that they could use their satanic power to strike the accuser mute.
    Our founders had their hypocrisy (slavery and the 1798 Act of Sedition), but the Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Amendment (which one recent Supreme Court justice stated has no basis in our legal system) guarantee a public trial where the accuser’s name is publicized…This is most evident in the Sixth Amendment’s right to obtain “witnesses in his favor.”
    I am inclined to think that Kobe probably did abuse this woman, or she inflicted these wounds upon herself. If so, then a past history would be necessary to the defense. How can they get witnesses to come forward when no one knows who the accused is?
    Feminists have pushed hard for these laws and legal manhating is codified as Battered Women’s Defense…No one seems to care or notice that the same FBI statistics used to push that defense into a valid defense also show that women inflict about 1.2 times as much abuse on men than men inflict on women…

  2. What do we all think of shielding the name of the accused as well as the accuser? I’ve heard Bermuda does so. Does the public really have a “right” to know any of this? Is there judicial harm in it?

  3. No, the public only has the right to one side of any story.

  4. While the columnist has some points, the issue of withholding names is not unique to rape charges. In the Bryant case and others like it, the state is the actual accuser, and the alleged victim is a witness for the prosecution. There are many situations when the names of witnesses are withheld by the courts or the media. Typically it is done to protect the witness.

  5. It’s not about accuser and accused. It’s about prosecutor and defendant.

    Well for one thing, it’s not a private dispute betwist two private parties. At least one person has asked for the intervention of the state and in effect the accused has allegedly “sinned against the state” not just the alleged victim. The prosecutor is public, the jury is of peers and the court is about the most public arena available.

    Techincally then, the names of both sides of the case are revealed: the prosecutor is the public DA and the defendant is … whoever it is. The alleged victim is merely a key witness, but even that isn’t necessary to the DA’s case.

    I agree that the shield is misused and often harmful, but remember, this isn’t the 15th century where the accusor has to prove their case lest they face the punishment themselves.

  6. The prosecutor is just one pubic hair, the jury of her pears and the court is about the most pubic hair observable.

    But it is the legislators in Ohio that gives her the right to say, “No! Stop!” (By law.)

    The law giveth . . .

  7. Techincally, that is.

  8. Back over a decade ago, the leading paper in Fayetteville, Ark. (the NW Arkansas Times) decided it was going to start printing the names of people arrested for “lewd behavior” in the parks. The Times, BTW, was in the hip pocket of the good ol’ boys on the City Board and the Chamber of Commerce–and this was BEFORE it was bought out by the Walton family.

    The local alternative paper, the Grapevine, received leaked warnings from the Times staff that there was a plan to list the names of leading political opponents as perverts. When the stories turned out to be false, the troublemakers’ reputations being already destroyed, the Times could bury a retraction on page A10.

  9. “In the Bryant case and others like it, the state is the actual accuser, and the alleged victim is a witness for the prosecution.”

    Without the accusations of the “witness”, the “actual accuser” wouldn’t have any accusations whatsoever. Frankly, I’m left thinking that the “witness” is the actual accuser, and that the state is simply the prosecution.

    Besdies which, the “witness” was also a player in the events, either willingly or not. It is pretty clear that the witnesses’ past history could help determine her willingness in this case, and her credability.

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    DATE: 05/20/2004 06:55:43
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