Judicial Language Project
State v. Tucker (April 14, 2009)
(Case summary by Alexandra Seibert, law student)
Return to List
- Nature of the Case: rape
- Problematic Language: “sexually assaulted her"
“victim’s prior dating behavior”
- Explanation of Problem: The phrase, “held her down and sexually assaulted [victim],” is problematic because it an ambiguous statement.
The victim’s "prior dating behavior" is problematic because it is irrelevant. Use of terminology that fails to articulate the nature of the criminal act, or is irrelevant and prejudicial to the victim, distracts the reader from understanding the harm and imposing sole responsibility on the offender. Linda Coates, Telling it like it isn't: obscuring perpetrator responsibility for violent crime, 15 (5) Discourse & Society 499, 502 (2004), www.sagepublications.com.
- Suggested Alternatives: Instead of “sexually assaulted her", the court could have said "the defendant forced his penis in the victim's vagina”.
Instead of mentioning the victim's "prior dating behavior", the court could have left out that information as it was not important to a fair resolution of the issues on appeal.