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NCJ Number: 52185 Find in a Library
Title: TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS - FACTORS AFFECTING THE PROSECUTION OF RAPE - A CASE STUDY
Journal: VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW  Volume:64  Issue:3  Dated:(APRIL 1978)  Pages:357-397
Author(s): R A WENINGER
Corporate Author: Virginia Law Review Assoc
University of Virginia
School of Law
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 41
Sponsoring Agency: Virginia Law Review Assoc
Charlottesville, VA 22901
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PROSECUTORIAL DECISIONS IN TRAVIS COUNTY, TEX., RAPE CASES APPEAR TO BE BASED PRIMARILY ON PERCEPTIONS OF PRACTICALITY AND JURY TEMPERAMENT, RATHER THAN ON LEGISLATIVE INTENT.
Abstract: TO DETERMINE THE IMPACT OF VARIOUS FACTUAL ASPECTS OF RAPE PROSECUTIONS UPON THE DECISIONMAKING OF STATE PROSECUTORS, A FIELD STUDY WAS CONDUCTED OF THE REPORTS, ALLEGATIONS, AND TRIALS CONCERNING THE CRIME OF FORCIBLE RAPE IN TRAVIS COUNTY, TEX., FOR THE YEARS 1970-1976. LOG-LINEAR ANALYSIS OF THE DATA COLLECTED IN THE FIELD STUDY INDICATES THAT PRETRIAL DECISIONS OF PROSECUTORS ARE INFLUENCED HEAVILY BY EXPECTATIONS OF HOW A JURY WILL USE CERTAIN EVIDENCE, AND LESS INFLUENCED BY THE POLICIES ENUNCIATED IN THE STATE STATUTES. ALTHOUGH STATE LAW SET ASSAILANT FORCE AND VICTIM RESISTANCE AS THE PRIMARY INDICATORS OF NONCONSENT, PROSECUTORS INSIST UPON MEDICAL EVIDENCE TO CORROBORATE VICTIM'S ALLEGATIONS. THE LAW ITSELF ESTABLISHED NO FORMAL REQUIREMENT FOR MEDICAL CORROBORATION, BUT SUCH EVIDENCE, PLUS THE EXISTENCE OF A NONCONSENSUAL SITUATION PRECEEDING THE OFFENSE, HAVE A GREAT EFFECT ON THE PROSECUTORS' DECISIONS TO SEEK INDICTMENTS. THE ISSUE OF THE VICTIM'S CREDIBILITY SEEMS TO REQUIRE SUBSTANTIAL OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE OF THE OFFENSE ITSELF AND OF NONCONSENT BY THE VICTIM TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES BY THE DEFENSE. THE THREE ADDITIONAL FACTORS OF USE OF FORCE, RESISTANCE, AND THE PRIOR RELATIONSHIP OF THE PARTIES ALL AFFECT THE PROBABILITY OF AN INDICTMENT. THE ISSUES, DEFENSES, AND VERDICTS OF THE TRAVIS COUNTY RAPE TRIALS ARE EXAMINED WITH REFERENCE TO SPECIFIC CASES. THE EVIDENTIARY PRACTICES OF THE PROSECUTORS ARE DISCUSSED WITH EMPHASIS ON THE ADMISSION AS EVIDENCE OF COMPLAINANTS' PRIOR SEXUAL HISTORY AND EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANTS' PREVIOUS INDICTMENT FOR RAPE. IT IS BELIEVED THAT OVER-RELIANCE BY THE PROSECUTORS ON ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR INDICTMENTS COULD WRONGLY PREVENT VALID CASES FROM BEING BROUGHT TO TRIAL. THE DE FACTO ESTABLISHMENT BY PROSECUTORS IN RESPONSE TO APPARENTLY COMMON JUROR ATTITUDES OF AN ASSUMPTION-OF-RISK DOCTRINE FOR DETERMINING CONSENT IS CONSIDERED INAPPROPRIATE IN THE LEGAL CONTEXT. TABULAR DATA ARE INCLUDED. REFERENCES ARE FOOTNOTED. DETAILS OF THE LOG-LINEAR STATISTICAL ANALYSIS ARE APPENDED. (TWK)
Index Term(s): Decisionmaking; Medical and dental services; Prosecutorial discretion; Rape; Rules of evidence; Texas
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