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NCJ Number: 97319 Find in a Library
Title: Psycholegal Research on Rape Trials (From Rape and Sexual Assault, P 313-342, 1985, Ann W Burgess, ed. - See NCJ-97300)
Author(s): E Borgida; N Brekke
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: Garland Publishing, Inc.
New York, NY 10003-3304
National Institute of Mental Health
Bethesda, MD 20852
Grant Number: R01 MH30724-01
Sale Source: Garland Publishing, Inc.
19 Union Square
West Floor 8
New York, NY 10003-3304
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: 'Rape shield' laws and the use of expert testimony to counter myths about rape are two approaches to victims' rights that apparently positively affect perceptions of the credibility of sexual assault victims in the courtroom.
Abstract: Witness credibility is at the heart of the trial process in rape cases, because the basic issue is usually complainant consent. Juror, victim, defendant, and case characteristics all affect the reactions to rape cases. Over the past decade, various evidentiary reforms have provided protection to rape victims in court. Most of these new laws have shifted the burden of proof to the defense by forbidding the admission of third-party evidence on the victim's prior sexual history and by eliminating resistance and consent standards. However, the variety of reforms hinders conclusions about their impacts. Appellate courts have so far upheld the constitutionality of the new rape shield laws, which have been passed in over 40 jurisdictions. The use of expert testimony regarding stereotypes and misconceptions about rape apparently have influenced juror perceptions of victims' credibility. A simulation experiment confirmed this as well. Nevertheless, controversy still surrounds expert testimony on the rape trauma syndrome. Courts faced with expert testimony on this issue have been divided on the admissibility of such testimony. At issue are its probative value and prejudicial effect, the average juror's ability to understand such testimony, and the scientific status of rape trauma syndrome. Seventy-two references and a list of 13 cases are included.
Index Term(s): Expert witnesses; Law reform; Legislative impact; Rape victim shield laws; Sexual assault victims; Witness credibility
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