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Rape myths as barriers to fair trial process : comparing adult rape trials with those in the Aotearoa Sexual Violence Court Pilot Elisabeth McDonald with Paulette Benton-Greig, Sandra Dickson and Rachel Souness

By: McDonald, Elisabeth.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Christchurch, New Zealand : University of Canterbury Press, 2020Description: electronic document (586 pages) ; PDF file.ISBN: 978-1-98-850315-8.Subject(s): COURTS | CRIMINAL LAW | EVIDENCE | LAW REFORM | LEGAL PROFESSION | RAPE | -- SEXUAL VIOLENCE | SEXUAL VIOLENCE COURT | VICTIMS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE | WOMEN | NEW ZEALANDOnline resources: Click here to access online | Watch related seminar on YouTube Summary: This book opens the courtroom door on rape trials to investigate how and why they re-traumatise complainants. Despite decades of targeted law reform, adult complainants still report that the process of being a witness is a significant point of re-victimisation. This book contains the findings of four years of research that compares the trial process in 30 adult rape cases from 2010 to 2015 (in which the defence at trial was consent) with 10 cases from the Sexual Violence Court Pilot heard in 2018. The aim of the research was to find out at which points in the questioning process the complainant displayed heightened emotionality, including distress, and why cross-examination (in particular) is so resistant to reform measures. Researchers also considered the extent to which the current rules of evidence and procedure are applied appropriately and consistently, and identified examples of best practice in order to develop proposals for changes to law and process. Key features: Analysis of a large sample of cases; Internationally unique methodology through access to the audio of the complainant’s evidence in order to annotate the transcripts for heightened emotionality, judicial intervention in questioning and admissibility decisions; Assessments of aspects of the Sexual Violence Court Pilot not undertaken as part of the Gravitas/Ministry of Justice evaluation (2019). “This book is detailed in its analysis, rich in its insights and far-reaching in its implications. It should be read by anyone involved in, or concerned about, the handling of sexual violence allegations in contemporary criminal justice systems, in and beyond Aotearoa New Zealand – whether as a judicial officer, legal practitioner, government policy officer or academic … Elisabeth’s work is absolutely essential if we are to improve the experience of complainants in rape trials – and to make a dent in the ‘brutal old days’ that are, unfortunately, still with us.” From the Foreword by Professor Vanessa Munro (University of Warwick) and Associate Professor Julia Quilter (University of Wollongong). Record #6557
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This book opens the courtroom door on rape trials to investigate how and why they re-traumatise complainants.

Despite decades of targeted law reform, adult complainants still report that the process of being a witness is a significant point of re-victimisation. This book contains the findings of four years of research that compares the trial process in 30 adult rape cases from 2010 to 2015 (in which the defence at trial was consent) with 10 cases from the Sexual Violence Court Pilot heard in 2018. The aim of the research was to find out at which points in the questioning process the complainant displayed heightened emotionality, including distress, and why cross-examination (in particular) is so resistant to reform measures. Researchers also considered the extent to which the current rules of evidence and procedure are applied appropriately and consistently, and identified examples of best practice in order to develop proposals for changes to law and process.

Key features:

Analysis of a large sample of cases;
Internationally unique methodology through access to the audio of the complainant’s evidence in order to annotate the transcripts for heightened emotionality, judicial intervention in questioning and admissibility decisions;
Assessments of aspects of the Sexual Violence Court Pilot not undertaken as part of the Gravitas/Ministry of Justice evaluation (2019).

“This book is detailed in its analysis, rich in its insights and far-reaching in its implications. It should be read by anyone involved in, or concerned about, the handling of sexual violence allegations in contemporary criminal justice systems, in and beyond Aotearoa New Zealand – whether as a judicial officer, legal practitioner, government policy officer or academic … Elisabeth’s work is absolutely essential if we are to improve the experience of complainants in rape trials – and to make a dent in the ‘brutal old days’ that are, unfortunately, still with us.”

From the Foreword by Professor Vanessa Munro (University of Warwick) and Associate Professor Julia Quilter (University of Wollongong). Record #6557