CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, October 12, 2012

"eRape?: Should Courts Allow Rape Defendants to Discover the Google Searches of Their Victims?"

Colin Miller has this post at EvidenceProf Blog. In part:

Most of these requests fell on deaf ears. The court did, however, order Bennett to comply with the subpoena to disclose her  Google searches. Specifically,

Defense attorney Stephen Houze requested Bennett’s Google search records because she had looked up the definition of rape in Oregon.

“At a minimum, it would have established that the accuser her self had grave doubt in her mind as to whether her encounter with my client constituted criminal behavior at all,” said Houze.

I think that Houze and I might quibble over what is meant by “at a minimum.” Why did Bennett look up the definition of “rape” in Oregon? I imagine that she was trying to determine the exact type or degree of rape that Bray committed and how long he could be put behind bars. I have little doubt that Bennett believed that the choking, beating, and coerced sex she endured was “rape.” Imagine instead that Bray broke into Bennett’s house and stole her television. If Bray then looked up the definition of “burglary” in Oregon, would we think that Bennett doubted that she was burglarized?

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