Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Earlier this month, various news sources reported on an effort in New York to prohibit the reliance on / seizure of condoms as evidence of prostitution. The idea is that prostitutes, fearful that condom possession will be used against them in court, decide not to carry condoms. Or, additionally, that police seizures of condoms (often distributed free by the City) as evidence is counterproductive for obvious reasons. One story notes that if NY were to pass this restriction, it would be the first state to do so. Compelling arguments against the proposal do not spring to mind, although there are suggestions of opposition in the stories.
You do not see many offense-specific, policy-based rules of evidence exclusion like this, so this proposal, which makes intuitive sense, is intriguing. I wonder if there aren't other circumstances where policy reasons counsel against the seizure / use of certain kinds of evidence in certain types of prosecutions (e.g., heroin overdose antidote possession as evidence of heroin use). And if so, whether there might be a proliferation of offense-specific evidence rules in the future...