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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69623 Find in a Library
Title: Experience of the Rape Victim in the Courtroom (From Rape Crisis Intervention Handbook, P 97-118, 1980, by Sharon L McCombie - See NCJ-69620)
Author(s): A E Richmond
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10013-1576
Sale Source: Plenum Publishing Corp
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013-1576
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The roles of the participants in a rape trial, including the judge, jury, the prosecuting and defending lawyers, the victim and the defendant are explored; and suggestions are made for victim conduct during the trial.
Abstract: The role of the prosecutor in preparing the rape victim for trials is discussed in relation to pretrial identification of the defendant by the victim in a lineup or by personal identification in the courtroom before the arraignment or the preliminary hearing; provision for fresh complaint, or corroboration of the victim's initial description of the defendant and the circumstances of the assault; and preparing the victim for cross-examination by the defense lawyer. Tactics used by the defense lawyer in questioning the rape victim and witnesses are described and suggestions are made on how the victim may cope with them. These ruses include the use of leading questions, close questioning about time, distances, and descriptive details related to the rape, whether the victim has reviewed her testimony with the police or the prosecutor, and questions on the victim's prior sexual conduct or evidence about her sexual reputation. A section on the admissibility of sexual history testimony in a rape trial concludes that the victim's prior sexual conduct is relevant only in limited circumstances, i.e., prior sexual involvement with the defendant. The rape victim is urged to remain composed under hostile questioning from the defense lawyer, to listen attentively to all questions, and to reply in a civil manner. The victim should also maintain eye contact with the jury and/or prosecutor during her testimony, and not be intimidated by gestures or emotions displayed by the defendant, which, if brought to the attention of the judge, will result in an instruction to the defendant to cease all such activity or risk being removed from the courtroom. The duties and obligations of jurors are reviewed, and the merits of open and closed trials are weighed. Notes and one reference are provided. For related articles, see NCJ 69621-22.
Index Term(s): Judicial process; Rape; Sexual assault victims; Trial procedures
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