An Examination Of Rape Studies Essay Research — страница 3

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inevitable just relax and enjoy it. For the reminder of this paper I will focus on the legal system, the trial process to be more specific. The last of my focus will be broken into Expert witness testimony, and the adoption of the highly criticized Rape Shield laws. Psychology experts are rarely allowed in court, when dealing with rapes, this is due to the fact that the victim s state of mind is rarely in question. There have been many debates dealing with other uses of expert testimony in rape trial. Can Rape Myths be so embedded in our society that we would need an expert to explain them to us? That s where the debate lies. A study done by Burt found that over half the people surveyed believed when a man was invited into a women s apartment she was offering sex. It is easy to

see why a person would conclude that this belief could transfer over to a jury of one s peers. The real question, in psychology, is to what effect could an expert have on a person s believes? One study found that if a jury were to hear an expert s testimony by itself, they would be more likely to find a defendant guilty, however, during cross-examination, which happens in all true cases, the expert is easy discredited. Before I go on I must make it clear that just because it is shown that a jury is more likely to convict doesn t mean it is a reason to allow an expert in court. More over this many be the biggest factor in the reason why most expert witnesses aren t allowed in. Testimony concerning rape has been ruled too prejudicial, because it s feared that it would make the jury

apply the general description of rape to the specific case in hand. The disallowing of testimony isn t always in favor of the defendant, as the case in Rape Shield laws. Until recently a rape victim s past sexual history was fair game, once she took the stand. Though a defendant does have a Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against him, there has been an overwhelming social force against the legal system to govern this right. The question is how much of ones sexual past is relevant to a specific case? Until the late 70s and early 80s this was solely up to the defendant s attorney. But with the new social awareness to rape, brought on by many studies some of which I have mentioned, some states have given the decision of relevance to the judges. It

was a common practice of criminal lawyers to pressure rape victims from testifying with the threat of bring out her sexual past. Though a victims sexual past still is allowed within the guidelines of Rape Shield laws, lawyers must now argue why it is relevant to the case first. A study looking at the impact of Rape shield laws found that though it might protect victims from some attack (how many times a victim has had sex with men at a singles club for example) it doesn t protect from most questions dealing with sexual past, even when the laws are clear on the matter. As one judge put it, the law is the law, but fair is fair. A closer look at this occurrence may reveal a more realistic reason for this legal glitch. If a judge were to make the mistake of allowing in too much of a

victims sexual past, the judge would not be criticized by the legal system; however, if a judge were to not allow enough of a victims sexual past into trail, a defendant would have the right bring the mistake to an appeals court, in which the trial verdict could be over turned. It is easy to see that experts should continue their research on the different aspects of rape. We need to study the perpetrator and his victim, the society s reaction to rape and the effects of this reaction on the legal system. America still ranks the highest amongst most of the free world in rape incidences, though in most cases the figures seem to be on the decline. Further knowledge dealing with rape can help defense lawyer and prosecutor, males and females alike. Because of the awareness to rape we

can now get better figures. It is the job of the psychologist to uncover as much information as possible, so that this information can be put to use in the legal system. Work Cited Allison, J. & Wrightsman, L. (1993). Rape: The Misunderstood Crime. Newbury Park, California: SAGE Publications, Inc. Burt, M. R. (1980). Cultural myths and supports for rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38 217-230. Call, J. & Nice, D. & Talarico, M. (1991). An Analysis of State Rape Shield Laws. Social-Science-Quarterly, 72 774-788. Lonsway, K. & Fitzgerald, L. (1994) Rape myths: In review. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18(2) 133-164 Samaha, J. (1999). Criminal Law. Albany, NY: West/Wadsworth Spanos, N. & Dubreuil, S., Gwynn, M. (1992) The effects of expert