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NCJ Number: 66064 Find in a Library
Title: RAPE VICTIM SHIELD LAWS AND THE SIXTH AMENDMENT
Journal: UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW  Volume:128  Issue:3  Dated:(JANUARY 1980)  Pages:544-602
Author(s): J A TANFORD; A J BOCCHINO
Corporate Author: University of Pennsylvania
Law School
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 59
Sponsoring Agency: Fred B Rothman & Co
Littleton, CO 80123
Institute for Scientific Information
Philadelphia, PA 19104
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19174
Sale Source: Fred B Rothman & Co
Marketing Manager
10368 W Centennial Rd
Littleton, CO 80123
United States of America

Institute for Scientific Information
University City Science Ctr
3501 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: SOME RAPE VICTIM SHIELD LAWS VIOLATE THE SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO DEFEND ONESELF BECAUSE A RAPE CASE DEFENDANT IS CATEGORICALLY DENIED FROM OFFERING EVIDENCE ALLOWED IN OTHER TYPES OF CASES.
Abstract: IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, 46 JURISDICTIONS AND THE U.S. CONGRESS HAVE MADE EFFORTS TO PROTECT RAPE VICTIMS FROM THE HUMILIATION OF PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF THE DETAILS OF THEIR PRIOR SEXUAL ACTIVITIES. THESE NEW LAWS ESTABLISH A NEW RULE IN SOME CASES AS EXTREME AS THE OLD ONE (IN WHICH ADMISSIBILITY OF PAST SEXUAL CONDUCT WAS PRESUMED). HOWEVER, RAPE VICTIM SHIELD LAWS MAY BE FOUND OBJECTIVE WHEN TESTED AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION'S SIXTH AMENDMENT GUARANTEEING THAT NO PERSON ACCUSED OF A CRIME MAY BE DENIED THE RIGHT TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE WHEN THE PROBATIVE VALUE OUTWEIGHS THE PREJUDICIAL EFFECT. BECAUSE SEXUAL HISTORY EVIDENCE IS POTENTIALLY RELEVANT IN SOME RAPE CASES, THOSE STATUTES THAT CONTAIN ABSOLUTE PROHIBITIONS, WHETHER AGAINST ALL SUCH EVIDENCE OR AGAINST ONLY CERTAIN CLASSES OR USES OF EVIDENCE, CANNOT BE RECONCILED WITH THE SIXTH AMENDMENT. SHIELD LAWS ALSO RUN AFOUL OF THE CONSTITUTION WHEN THEY ALTER THE TRADITIONAL STANDARD FOR THE ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE. HOWEVER, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH REQUIRING THAT THE RELEVANCE OF SEXUAL HISTORY EVIDENCE BE DETERMINED BEFORE TRIAL, BY EMPLOYING THE TRADITIONAL STANDARD OF PROBATIVE VALUE WEIGHED AGAINST PREJUDICIAL EFFECT. IN ADDITION, THE SHIELD LAWS ARE UNOBJECTIONABLE TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY LIMIT THE ACCUSED FROM UNFAIRLY ATTACKING THE MORALITY OF THE RAPE VICTIM, AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY REQUIRE THAT RAPE VICTIMS BE TREATED NO DIFFERENTLY FROM OTHER WITNESSES AND THAT SEXUAL CONDUCT TESTIMONY BE TREATED THE SAME AS ANY OTHER EVIDENCE. AN EXAMPLE OF A VALID SHIELD LAW IS PRESENTED, CASE NOTES ARE CITED, AND APPENDIXES PRESENT COMPARATIVE TABLES OF RAPE VICTIM SHIELD STATUTES. (PRG)
Index Term(s): Bill of Rights; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Rape victim shield laws; Rights of the accused; Rules of evidence; Sexual assault victims
Note: PRICE QUOTED IS FOR ENTIRE ISSUE
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