Rape Shield Laws

Topics: Rape, Rape shield law, People v. Jovanovic Pages: 1 (349 words) Published: April 27, 2013
. A case that involved the topic of rape and the laws pertinent to it was that of Oliver Jovanovic. In 1998, Jovanovic, then a student at Columbia University in New York City, was convicted of attacking a Barnard College student, Jamie Rzucek. Rzucek claimed that Jovanovic had subjected her to torture and sexual abuse, holding her in his apartment for 20 hours. The defense claimed that the bondage was consensual, and said they had electronic-mail transcripts between the two as evidence that Rzucek had consented to the activity. However, the judge refused to admit the transcripts as evidence, saying that because they detailed the accuser's sexual conduct, they violated New York's rape shield law. In 1999, an appeals court ordered a retrial, saying that the application of the law had left the jury with a "distorted view of the evidence." The prosecution eventually chose to seek a dismissal of the charges. This case was pertinent to rape shield laws because persons who are against rape shield laws believe that a defendant should have all the tools to prove his innocence, and in this particular case would have meant admitting the electronic-mail transcripts as evidence. Opponents argue that, by limiting what can be discussed in court, rape shield laws severely limit a defendant's means of proving his innocence. My position on the issue is most likely against the idea of presenting evidence in a trial that would detail the accuser's sexual conduct because I think regardless of that no woman deserves to be raped. So if this type of evidence were permitted it would be embarrassing for the woman and portray her to be easy or just because she was sexually active it could sway a jury decision in the favor of the defendant. Opponents of rape shield laws say that they set a double standard because it means that a defendant's sexual history is open to discussion but an accuser's is not. Critics argue that, as a result, a defendant could be stigmatized even if he is found...
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