California Court of Appeals Overturns Rape Conviction

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About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She is the News Editor for the Good Feed Blog and absolutely loves what she does. She is the happy mommy to a wild 2 year old girl-child, and is blissfully happy being un-married to her life partner DJ.

Comments

  1. courage the cowardly dog says:

    I am not particularly outraged by this ruling. The accused has not been acquitted. The case is being remanded and he will be tried again and the law, hopefully, will be appropriately applied and if the facts fall within the purview of the law the accused will be convicted and he will be appropriately sentenced and be removed from society and not be a threat to others. I represented a man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and who spent 12 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him. As has been said in the law, it iis better that a 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted and to lose his liberty.

    • courage the cowardly dog says:

      The Appeals Court here is just trying to have the law applied appropriately. I am happy to hear that.

  2. Jonathan G says:

    The appeals court seems to have made its decision based on a very narrow interpretation of what the statutory definition of rape is,

    That is the role of the appellate court as it has evolved in our 1,000-year-old common-law legal system. I don’t have time to write a comprehensive treatise on the history and philosophy of law, so the highly-abbreviated version is this: Based on that common-law legal tradition, the constitution of the state of California vests the power to enact, amend and repeal statutory law solely in the state legislature, and the statutory law binds the courts. The courts do not have the power to enact, amend or repeal statutory law; they must apply (their best interpretation of) the law as written. The particular California statute at issue is very explicit–it applies only to married women–so the courts had no room for interpretation.

    and being that it is now the 21st century, applying a law from the 19th century that so clearly discriminates between a person who is married versus a person who is not is, I would argue, a miscarriage of justice, if only because it is so clearly based on social norms that are now outdated?

    Yes, it certainly is a miscarriage of justice. That said, it is not a miscarriage of justice that the courts have the power under the California constitution to rectify. That power is reserved to the state legislature. That is why the appellate court’s opinion explicitly stated that this is an unjust law, and called on the state legislature to change it, post-haste.

    Should the definition of impersonation rape be the same for both unmarried and married women?

    I believe so, and the appellate court believes so, but none of us has the power to change it. I would expect that the California state legislature, the sole body that has the power to change it, will do so in the near future.

    Do you think the court was right in overturning the conviction based on such a narrow interpretation of state law?

    This is a loaded question, so I have to go with one of Hofstadter’s answers: “Mu.” The question seems to presume that the court could have acted differently and that by supporting its decision, I am supporting an injustice done to the victim. On the contrary, I think that the court was right in its decision because it was the only decision available to it under our legal system, for reasons that have been well-hashed-out over the system’s long history.

    Please be aware that this does not mean that the perpetrator “got away with it.” The case will go back to the trial court, and the available evidence seems to indicate that he will be convicted handily on the charge of initiating sex while the victim was asleep. Yes, it does seem inefficient, but it is in the interest of protecting the innocent from wrongful conviction that we want our court system to follow all proper procedures and to extend all due protections to the accused.

    Instead of raging at the court, let’s focus on getting the legislature to do its job.

    • Totally agree (lawyer here). The court must apply the law. This “loophole” requires a legislative fix.

    • Exactly right. This isn’t a story about a court saying a woman wasn’t raped because she wasn’t married. It’s a story about a stupid, archaic law being exposed, so now the legislature should act to amend it. Meanwhile, the case is remanded, so even with the bad law still on the books, the result wasn’t acquittal for the defendant.

  3. Impersonation rape? First time I’ve heard of that. Wouldn’t it be simply raping someone who was asleep or was it made for identical twins or something?

    • I just find it odd that to keep some subjects front and centre the focus has to become more extreme and left field. Of course it would not even be getting mentioned if it was her being sent for retrial for doing him! C’est la Vie!

    • Rape by fraud is a little known form of rape. The issue is, the sex is consensual, but the victim thinks she’s having sex with someone else. It’s rare but it happens. I recently read about a case where a man and his wife went to bed drunk, sometime later she was awakened by someone who she thought was her husband initiating sex, she let it happen, it was dark and she was drunk, then realized afterwards that it was actually an intruder in the house. Problem with proving rape by intoxication is that the intruder didn’t know she was drunk! Also, she objectively consented.

      • Ah I see, figured it’d be something like that. I suppose it would be needed to differentiate consent people have for their partner and being mistaken in identity for another. Would this cover people who lie about their name, occupation, etc?

      • Sarah

        Rape by fraud is a tricky term.

        Having sex with someone by impersonating someone else is rape, especially when the victim is drunk or asleep. The scenario mentioned in this article is rape.

        However, “Rape by fraud”, is used to refer to a lot of other situations which are not technically rape. Here are 2 examples.

        In Israel a man was charged with rape because he lied to a woman about his religion. The woman had sex with him thinking he was a Jew, when in fact he was a Muslim. This was termed rape by fraud.

        In India, the law considers it rape, if a man falsely promises a woman of marriage, only to have sex with her.

        So this terms is a bit dodgy and controversial.

        • The 1st example would not be rape under U.S. law. I can’t speak for other countries. In the U.S., consensual sex is not rape except in a few narrow circumstances.

          The 2nd example used to be considered a tort under British/American law called “seduction.” The woman could sue for damages. I don’t think it was a crime. It is no longer a recognized tort.

          • wellokaythen says:

            I believe Frank Sinatra wound up in jail briefly in the 1940′s under the “seduction” statute. That’s where the famous mug shot of him comes from. (On a poster behind Tony Soprano’s desk, for example.)

      • Sarah

        Rape by fraud is a tricky term.

        Having sex with someone by impersonating someone else is rape, especially when the victim is drunk or asleep. The scenario mentioned in this article is rape.

        However, “Rape by fraud”, is used to refer to a lot of other situations which are not technically rape. Here are 2 examples.

        In Israel a man was charged with rape because he lied to a woman about his religion. The woman had sex with him thinking he was a Jew, when in fact he was a Muslim. This was termed rape by fraud.

        In India, the law considers it rape, if a man falsely promises a woman of marriage, only to have sex with her.

        So this terms is a bit dodgy and controversial.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    There’s a story from decades ago that a SCOTUS justice was told to “do justice”. No, he said, I do the law.
    We can’t have judges doing whatever they think is cool when we think it’s cool. Because when they think it’s cool and we don’t, we don’t have much of an argument.
    That’s the legislature’s job. All you have to do is get their noses out of the trough long enough to talk to them and show them the potential voting patterns.

  5. When I first read this I thought “Those Judges must be partaking in that ‘Medical Marajuana’ that’s so prevelent in the Golden State”. But, as they say in the NFL, upon further review, they were doing what they are supposed to do and in fact they did all in Calafornia a favor by exposing this arcane law. I’ve never been able to figure out why Legislative bodies don’t hesitate to pass new laws(even though some are poorly written) but really need to be pushed to repeal arcane laws that either haven’t kept up with changing times or were in fact ‘Bad Laws’ from the beginning desidned to protect a privilaged few. Sometimes you’ve got to ‘clean out the pantry’and get rid of those items that have ‘passed their expiration date’.

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