“Victim” or “Accuser”? | The Decision Defense

According the the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the attorney for Steubenville rape suspect Ma’lik Richmond is asking for a change in terminology:

Defense lawyer Walter Madison filed a number of motions Friday, including one that asks Visiting Judge Thomas Lipps to order the parties to refer to the Weirton, W.Va., girl at the center of the case as the “accuser” and not the “victim.”

“The ultimate question in this case is whether a crime was committed. Only after any such determination can a person be declared a ‘victim,’ ” Madison wrote.

This will doubtlessly make some people’s head’s explode but if ‘innocent until proven guilty’ means anything, Madison may have a point. I take no position as to guilt or innocence in this case but I believe there’s been a rush to judgment when we haven’t even heard from the defense so far.

The defense claim appears to be that the events of the evening were consensual. You can see this in some of Madison’s questions during the probable cause hearing. He’s questioning Mark Cole…

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One comment

  1. Roger Canaff

    I prosecuted these cases for years in two jurisdictions. Defense attorneys have gained ground in recent years getting courts to prohibit reference to the complainant in the case as a “victim.” I am not completely unsympathetic to the argument, but I do not believe “accuser” is a fair word either. Accuser carries negative connotations in our culture and suggests hysteria at least and ulterior motives at worst. Complainant is a fair compromise, perhaps. Accuser is not. I wrote about the issue at http://rogercanaff.com/site/2010/06/accuser-simply-the-wrong-word/.

    Good looking blog, btw- thanks for the info.

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