Judicial Language Project
Lynn v. State (September 22, 2009)
(Case summary by Kristen Antolini, law student)
Return to List
- Nature of the Case: Aggravated child sexual abuse
- Facts: Defendant was convicted of single count of aggravated child abuse for touching and and placing his mouth on the victim's genitals on multiple occasions.
- Problematic Language: The court described the defendant as "placing mouth on genitals" of the victim. The court does not further describe the details of the incident.
- Explanation of Problem: By using the language "placing mouth on genitals" the court avoids using needlessly erotic language. The court describes the event in a straightforward manner without needlessly sexualized terms. This language also avoids reference to any sexual motive of the defendant that might minimize the violence or diminish the seriousness of the offense. By excluding erotic language, the court appropriately avoids implying that the conduct is pleasurable and conveys correctly an image of activity that is criminal and harmful. See Clare MacMartin and Linda A. Wood, Sexual Motives and Sentencing; Judicial Discourse in Cases of Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Language and Social Psychology (2005), 139-140.
- Suggested Alternatives: The language used by this court is more appropriate than phrases used by other courts such as "cunnilingus" and "oral sex".