Our justice system is f*ed up for victims of sexual violence (triggers)

Just did another stint with jury duty.  Third time being called since September.  This time it was for ongoing sexual abuse of a child.

I didn’t get selected.  Because I said I was biased because forget getting to the indictment stage, just coming forward about sexual abuse is so rare that even getting to the kid actually telling someone means it’s pretty likely that it actually happened.  The defense stopped asking me questions at that point, just skipped over me.

I hate the jury selection procedures.  The prosecution and the defense throw out enough “hypotheticals” that by the end of it you know not only what the (alleged) crime is, but you know how the two sides are going to proceed.

In this case, the prosecution was going to allege that this dude repeatedly assaulted a young girl in his family, and that she didn’t come forward right away because she was scared to tell anyone.

The defense is going to paint said child as a malicious liar who is being manipulated by an older sibling into making a false accusation.

This is just so @#$@#ed up.  No wonder nobody ever comes forward when being abused.  No wonder nobody is willing to go through the trial.  No wonder false accusations are such a small statistically unlikely occurrence.

And of course the other prospective jurors just ate it up, especially the former teachers.  Kids lie all the time.  They’re malicious awful creatures.

Hell, the defense attorney wasn’t any better.  When asking us a hypothetical about the punishment, he made a comment about girls who were 13 going on 30, and if a 13 year old who looked like an adult was dating and having sex with a 17 year old for a six month period, then surely that would be not that big a deal (the defendant was obviously a middle-aged man).  WTF?  A 13 year old is still a child even if she has breasts.  Especially if she has breasts.   Seventeen year olds should be damn careful that they’re not having sex with middle-schoolers.  And if they are, that is in no way the 13 year old’s fault.

I don’t know what would be a better system.  I’d like to imagine that having these cases be decided judicially would be better for the victims, but judges are probably no better than normal people for being influenced by the patriarchy.  Just look at the supreme court.

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19 Responses to “Our justice system is f*ed up for victims of sexual violence (triggers)”

  1. eemusings Says:

    That is just awful.

  2. plantingourpennies Says:

    Mr PoP has jury duty today – hoping he doesn’t get put on a sham of a trial like he did the last time based on his professed love of our kitten.
    But 3rd jury duty since September? Isn’t there a waiting period before they can put your name back in the pool?

    Sadly, justice is even harder to find if you report on campus, it seems: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Only if I have actually served for at least 3 days. I have actually served for 1 day. The selection process doesn’t count. But if I do get a 4th summons anytime soon I’m going to call up and say it’s ridiculous.

      you have to explain more about the kitten thing…

      • plantingourpennies Says:

        The kitten thing was ridiculous. The defense was asking who had pets and Mr PoP assumed someone had abused an animal and went on about how much we loved our cat hoping to be excused. Turned out the trial was over a restraining order violation when one person broke into their former partner’s home to catnap the kitten he had raised prior to the breakup. And the defense chose Mr PoP specifically to sit on the jury. They pled our halfway through, so Mr PoP didn’t get the chance to show the defense that a cat is not worth breaking the law for, especially when the cat was not being abused.

        That’s crazy that you can be called that often. For us if you have to drive down to the courthouse (even if there end up being no trials and you’re excused after an hour), you get removed from the pool for 2 years.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Tell him next time to talk about the patriarchy. That’ll get him excused pronto.

  3. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    That is terrible. The fact that you could read how both the defense and the prosecution planned on presenting their cases really says something. How do they expect to get unbiased jurors if they are already spoon-feeding storylines?

  4. becca Says:

    With respect (as I’m kind of glad you told them honestly what you thought), I think in this case the ethically ideal thing is to lie like hell to get on the jury and then throw the book at the jackass.

  5. chacha1 Says:

    That is infuriating and sad.

    Re: throwing the book at the jackass … the problem is that in certain states, one of which I believe our eminent blogger lives in, women are automatically at fault. For anything. Got a flat tire? your own fault. Husband hit you? your fault. Ex-boyfriend stalked you? your fault. Got lupus? you’re just lazy, that doesn’t exist. Need birth control? you slut. Uncle raped you? you must have enticed him, you underage slut, you were asking for it.

    Big swaths of the USA are basically already run under sharia law, except it is based on Christian dogma rather than Islamic, and it is applied almost exclusively to the female of the species.

  6. delagar Says:

    Here in Arkansas we just has charges dismissed against a guy because the 13 year old looked (according to the judge, apparently) “older” than her age.

    The comment section was just charming. Girls these days,I will have you know, are no “angles”; rather they are little whores and sluts and good for the judge for not ruining that poor mans live [sic]. (Which was how I felt after reading the story + comments.)

  7. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Third time since September??? In my state, if you sit in the jury pool for three days and don’t get put on a jury, you’re dismissed for six years.

  8. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    “How do they expect to get unbiased jurors if they are already spoon-feeding storylines?”

    They don’t expect to get unbiased jurors. The attorneys through their questioning during voire dire are attempting to introduce biases in the jurors that are favorable to their respective clients. In my state, most voire dire occurs not in front of the judge. One panel I was on, one of the attorneys started yelling at the other attorney that he was gonna go get the judge, because UNFAIR INTRODUCTION OF BIAS THROUGH VOIRE DIRE QUESTIONING!

  9. femmefrugality Says:

    Oh, this makes me sick. I know a few teachers who would eat it up for exactly the reasons you stated. But holy moly the kid came forward. And like you said, that does. not. happen. I wouldn’t have been selected either. I might have had a few words before they dismissed me. Can prospective jurors get in trouble for that?

  10. hush Says:

    Gah, this makes my heart hurt. For your sake, I’m relieved you were not asked to bear witness to a full trial with awful, triggering facts, testimony, photos, and participants like that – and, and, those former teachers’ remarks?!? I mean wow, just wow – it would be traumatizing to say the least. Anyway, hope you’re feeling ok after that experience.

    “just coming forward about sexual abuse is so rare that even getting to the kid actually telling someone means it’s pretty likely that it actually happened.” Amen – THIS times a million. Plus we know that prosecutors generally decline to prosecute these kinds of cases in the first place. Usually there would have to be super convincing physical evidence if the prosecutor is willing to bring it to trial instead of pleading it out. Which makes you wonder just how many priors a defendant in a case like this has to have if he’s taking the calculated risk of a trial – probably multiple… but the jury will never hear of them (because: unfair prejudice). Oy.

    Also, just thinking this through a bit further – if I’m ever called as a juror in such a case, as the parent of young kids living in any type of relative proximity to a defendant what possible incentive do I have to give him the benefit of the doubt at all? None whatsoever. How folks truly do “innocent until proven guilty” in a case like this is far, far beyond me.

  11. insomniaclabrat Says:

    Oh gosh. When I was 19 I sat on a jury for a similar case to what you describe here. I didn’t notice it at the time, but thinking back – yep, they told us everything right up front with the questions. It was horrifying – not only the case, but that there were jurors who were so concerned about not “ruining the life of the man”… we did end up finding the dependent guilty, but it took so long. Ugh.

    I don’t know what a better system is either, but that experience scared me – a young college student, already worried about campus safety/etc – a lot.

    I ran into the prosecutor a week or two later at the coffee shop I worked at. He asked me some questions about how the experience of being a juror was, then told me he was surprised the defense didn’t excuse me, being that I was so young, and female (though he suspected they were more worried about women who had kids). Made the whole “jury of your peers” thing seem a little … disengenuous.


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