Censor THIS.

by Isabel

Back in June, Jessica @ Feministing blogged about the rape trial of Pamir Safi, accused of raping Tory Bowen in 2004, in which the judge deemed it unacceptable for the victim and her attorney to use the words “rape”, “sexual assault”, “forced”, “rape kit”, “assailant”, or “victim” throughout the trial.

The woman fought back, saying

“I refuse to call it sex, or any other word that I’m supposed to say, encouraged to say on the stand, because to me that’s committing perjury. What happened to me was rape, it was not sex.”

Which is obviously the correct response to such a ridiculous ruling. Especially since the jurors were NEVER EVEN TOLD about the banned words. Which is CLEARLY absurd.

As Doug Patton speculates:

All this led me to wonder how this kind of brilliant legal thinking might be applied to other crimes: “Your honor, this woman may have been a participant in the shooting, as was the defendant, but she had to visit the hospital after the encounter.”

“Objection! Your honor, the district attorney is implying actions not admissible as evidence, thereby tainting the jury’s opinion of my client.”

“Sustained. The prosecution will comply with this court’s order regarding inflammatory language.”

Or how about a case of armed robbery? “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this woman was indeed involved with the defendant when the money was removed. They were both there at the time, and there was a firearm present, but when the meeting ended my client was not happy about the outcome.”

“Objection!”

Well, there is another update.

The victim, Tory Bowen, is suing the judge that banned her from describing her assault with the appropriate terminology. If she loses, this will set a dangerous precedent.

Wendy Murphy, a professor at the New England School of Law lays it all out:

“I have a problem (with a judge) directing a witness, not the government, to say certain words. It impugns their candor, their credibility.”

Most of all, Murphy said, Bowen won’t be able to explain to jurors why she’s using clinical words — or, worse, words that imply consent — when she describes the encounter with Safi.

“Jurors will go back to their room and say, ‘She didn’t feel it was harmful. After all, she called it sex,’” Murphy said.

Not. Good. Let’s hope she wins. The very fact that she is fighting this makes her a hero, in my books.

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