November 03, 2014

The Matriarchy Strikes Back

Six of nine judges on the Washington State Supreme Court (5 of them female) rule that the State can't attempt to improve conviction rates for rape and sexual assault by eroding the due process rights of defendants:

Typically, the burden of proof lies with the accuser. Otherwise, anyone could accuse anyone else of anything and then say “prove me wrong.”

And that’s not how the legal system — or logic — works.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday that those accused of rape are not responsible for proving they obtained consent. In a 6-3 ruling, the court said that requiring the accused to provide such proof to the preponderance of evidence standard violated constitutional rights.

"Requiring a defendant to do more than raise a reasonable doubt is inconsistent with due process principles," wrote Justice Debra Stephens. She added that doing so raised "a very real possibility of wrongful convictions."


Of course the decision pertains to criminal proceedings, not college disciplinary hearings. Still, it's not good news for our Constitutional Law Prof president and his attempts to negate due process rights for college students accused of sexual assault. It's hard to see the justification for treating college students more harshly than accused rapists:

"When a defense necessarily negates an element of the crime charged, the State may not shift the burden of proving that defense onto the defendant," the ruling said.

"Requiring a defendant to do more than raise a reasonable doubt is inconsistent with due process principles," Justice Debra Stephens wrote...

This doesn't bode well for what is rapidly becoming one of the President's favorite arguments ("We can't wait for the system/rule of law to work").

Wethinks someone's going to need a bigger pen and phone.

Posted by Cassandra at November 3, 2014 07:39 AM

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Somewhere, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, have their robes in a bunch. Somehow, it’s so much more amusing when it’s women that done it.

Posted by: Neither Finn Nor Hound, Just Plain Huckleberry at November 3, 2014 10:26 AM

There is definitely an amusing aspect to this, but it's amusing on several levels.

Just as I keep rejecting the notion that "all men" think the same way or that when some minority of men behave badly, that somehow speaks volumes about "men in general", I get really annoyed with the reciprocal form of stupidity from some pundits on the right about women.

We don't all think with our ladyparts, and we don't all think the same way. I find it amusing that a state supreme court in which women outnumber men 2-1 issued this ruling (AND that the dissent was joined by 2 men and 1 woman).

I really don't understand the urge to pit men and women against each other by constantly suggesting to each "side" in the gender wars that the other "side" is biased, self interested, and incapable of equitably dealing with anyone who doesn't share the same plumbing. Or relentlessly flogging stories that piss people off and gin up resentment and distrust - often in a way that distorts reality by making people think things happen more often than they actually do in real life just because some jackwagon with a bee in his/her bonnet links to them disproportionately.

Lately, I'm just growing so disgusted with the Internet. I suppose everyone's got an agenda, but countering someone else's bias/distortion with your own bias/distortion strikes me as a fool's errand.

/sorry - rant over

I want so badly to believe in my own side, but some days they really don't make that easy.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2014 10:48 AM

“Never apologize” - Sgt. York (John Wayne’s not Gary Cooper’s)

Besides, what better curative for cant than rant?

Posted by: Just Plain Huckleberry at November 3, 2014 11:50 AM

It's kinda frightening that 3 judges dissented.

Some days it's hard to believe in any side. The alternative seems to be to just give up, though, and that doesn't help.

Maybe a little red wine for the blues?

Posted by: Tom at November 3, 2014 07:39 PM

Note that there was no "reducing rape suspects' burden"; the previously imposed extra burden was removed, that's all. And yes, that three would agree with that extra burden is scary.

Posted by: htom at November 3, 2014 08:21 PM

One of the great realizations of my adult life is that I don't have a side. I have loyalties: to the military, to the Christian faith, more specifically to the Catholic Church, to my home state, and so forth. But none of them are "my side," because none of them feel a mutual loyalty in return. They won't fight for me, so I fight for them advisedly and at discretion.

The only thing I have like a "side" is my few true friends and family. But these aren't a "side" in any sense: some of them are liberals and others arch-conservatives, some men and some women, some military and some civilian, some Christian and some not. They don't form a coherent interest that might be called a "side."

That's why what I fight for is chiefly a world in which they can all be happy. I don't want to beat any of them. I want to make a world in which they can all have what they want. And they want different things.

Posted by: Grim at November 3, 2014 09:19 PM

FWIW, most political observers here in Washington state believe that women candidates have a small inherent edge in elections -- and that you can see that edge most clearly in our judicial elections. Everything else being equal, Jane Doe will beat John Doe.

(It shows up most in judicial elections because, like most places that elect judges, Washington makes it difficult to figure out what they will do in office.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at November 5, 2014 06:44 PM