Author Archives: Colin Miller

Marcia Yablon-Zug’s Mail Order Feminism

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you read the phrase Mail Order Bride? A misogynistic man purchasing a docile foreign woman whom he can dominate? A marriage that likely will end in domestic violence? The Nicole … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia | Comments Off

Irresistible Impulse: Supreme Court of Iowa Finds Employer Can Fire Employee He Deems an “Irresistible Attraction”

The question is not before us of whether it would be sex discrimination if Tenge had been terminated because Lori perceived her as a threat to her marriage but there was no evidence that she had engaged in any sexually suggestive conduct. Tenge v. Phillips Modern Ag. Co., 446 F.3d 903 (8th Cir. 2006). … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

Pages In Your Diary: Supreme Court of West Virginia Badly Errs in Deeming Diary Entries Admissible Despite Rape Shield Rule

A defendant is charged with second-degree sexual assault and related crimes after another individual and he allegedly commit sexual crimes against a 13 year-old victim. After the alleged crimes, the alleged victim starts writing in a notebook and writes in … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary, Invasion of Privacy | Comments Off

Judge as Judicial Midwife?: Justice on Botswana’s High Court Strikes Down Customary Law Rule Banning Female Inheritance

Recently, a justice on Botswana’s high court struck down a Ngwaketse Customary Law rule precluding women from inheriting family homes, finding that it contravened the right to equality principle enshrined in Botswana’s constitution. Perhaps as interesting as the justice’s conclusion is … Continue reading

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Posted in Activism, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

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

Jennifer Bennett was beaten, choked, and raped by Thomas Bray at his condo. (Here is the Today Show video on her story) Upon returning to her home, “[s]he stood at the entrance to her bathroom for 15 minutes, fighting the … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Persecution Complex: 3rd Circuit Finds Village Head’s Threat of Marriage or Incarceration Was Not Persecution

Substantial evidence supports the BIA’s decision. While Zhang contends that she was persecuted when the village chief attempted to coerce her into marrying his son, and that she suffered this persecution on account of her membership in a particular social … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Immigration | Comments Off

The Bitch Is Back: When a Supervisor Repeatedly & Angrily Calls An Employee a “Bitch” to Her Face in Front of Co-Workers, Is it Sexual Harassment?

Kimberly Passananti was the deputy director of the DRC from 2002 until 2007. For several years, her supervisor was DRC director John Sullivan. After losing her job in 2007, Passananti sued, claiming that Sullivan subjected her to sexual harassment and … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

Under the Shield: Should the Rape Shield Rule Apply at Sentencing Hearings?

Federal Rule of Evidence 412(a), the Rape Shield Rule, provides that The following evidence is not admissible in a civil or criminal proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct: (1) evidence offered to prove that a victim engaged in other sexual behavior; or … Continue reading

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Double Nickels on the Dime: Supreme Court of Israel Creates Burden-Shifting Framework for Gender Pay Disparity Cases

According to the Washington Post, Israeli feminists on Friday welcomed a Supreme Court ruling they say will help enforce equal pay laws for men and women. The ruling, issued Thursday, requires employers paying different wages to men and women to … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

Deborah Tuerkheimer’s Judging Sex & The En Banc Opinion That Reversed The Rape Shield Killing Ruling

Back in 2010, I posted an entry about the Sixth Circuit’s opinion in Gagne v. Booker, 596 F.3d 335 (6th Cir. 2010), the (in)famous rape shield case in which the dissent accused the majority of “effectively abrogat[ing] every rape-shield statute … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

Will Pennsylvanie Become The Last State To Allow For The Admission Of Rape Trauma Syndrome Evidence?

According to an article on the CBS21 news site, “[t]wo very important bills are sitting in committees right now.” One of those bills is House Bill 1264, which allows for the admission of expert testimony regarding rape trauma syndrome. Yes, … Continue reading

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It’s My Space, That’s Why They Call It MySpace: Court of Appeals of Texas Finds MySpace Comment Covered by Rape Shield Rule

A defendant is charged with various sexual crimes against the alleged victim, a 15 year-old. To support his defense, the defendant seeks to introduce into evidence a comment that the alleged victim made on her MySpace page, where she referred … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Wicked Little Town: Transgendered Widow of Firefighter Fights the City of Wharton, Texas for Workers Compensation Benefits

When the Landmark Theater in Chicago announced that John Cameron Mitchell‘s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” would soon be playing as part of its Midnight Madness, I was not surprised at all. “Hedwig” is this generation’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, LGBT Rights | 1 Comment

No Passage To India: India Fails To Approve Landmark Changes To Its Sexual Harassment Law

Landmark amendments to India’s sexual harassment law failed to get approval by the Union Cabinet on Thursday. The amendments would have done at least two things to India’s Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill: … Continue reading

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Posted in Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

District Of Oregon Dismisses Stereotype of the Emotional, Gossipy, and Flirtatious Woman & Then Labels the Plaintiff One

As noted by Bridget, in delivering the luncheon address at the MSU Symposium on “Gender and the Legal Profession,” the Honorable Nancy Gertner said that “[t]he reason that people are losing discrimination cases is not because it didn’t happen.  It’s because … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination | Comments Off

Why NZ Director’s Reference to the “Oprahfication” of the Courtroom was Really a Jab at the “Pussification” of the Courtroom

I’m not a huge fan of victim impact statements. These statements typically used to consist of family members taking the witness stand during the sentencing phase of a murder trial and explaining the character of the victim and what his … Continue reading

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Posted in Feminism and Law, Sexism in the Media | 1 Comment

Without Prejudice?: 6th Circuit Deems Rape Shield Evidence Minimally Prejudicial To Victim, Reverses Conviction

The district court excluded the 2007 acts because those encounters occurred at a different place than the indicted offenses. Although there is certainly a difference between private sexual acts and those that take place in public, that does not eliminate, … Continue reading

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Love, Hate, Murder, and Commitment Devices: No-Drop DV Policies and the Reduction in Men Murdered by Intimates

Last week, the folks at Freakonomics posted an interesting podcast (“Save Me From Myself”) about commitment devices. A commitment device is “a means with which to lock yourself into a course of action that you might not otherwise choose but that … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Economics | Comments Off

The Loss of Sexual Innocence: Supreme Court of Guam Finds Trial Court Erred in Limiting Cross-Examination of Child Rape Victim

A defendant is on trial for criminal sexual conduct based upon acts that he allegedly committed against a 10 year-old victim. Previously, a forensic examination of the alleged victim revealed scar tissue on her hymen. Before trial, the defendant failed … Continue reading

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Taking Exception: Is Evidence of Prior Oral Sex by 15 Year-Old Victim Admissible in Prosecution of 38 Year-Old?

A 38 year-old defendant is charged with four counts of sexual conduct with a minor, and it is undisputed that he engaged in four acts of oral sexual intercourse with the victim, who was 15 years-old. The defendant, however, seeks to present … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

The Vermont Frat Questionnaire & The Foreseeability of Stranger Rape Based Upon Increased Acquaintance Rape at a College

If I could rape someone, who would it be? This now infamous question, asked at the end of a fraternity questionnaire at the University of Vermont, led to the fraternity being suspended. But let’s say that the university took no … Continue reading

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The Only Exception: Arkansas Case Reveals Danger Of State’s Undifferentiated Rape Shield Exception

Like many state counterparts, Federal Rule of Evidence 412(a), the Federal Rape Shield Rule, precludes the admission of evidence of an alleged victim’s prior sexual behavior/predisposition to prove her propensity to consent to sexual acts and her likely conformity with … Continue reading

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Touching a Nerve?: 8th Circuit Finds ALJ’s Comment About Touching A Feminist’s Nerve Didn’t Constitute Reversible Bias

[A]fter Perkins testified that her daily routine includes watching the Lifetime channel, the ALJ asked, “And what is the subject matter of that? That’s the girl channel.”…Perkins responded, “Women’s channel.”…The ALJ then stated, “All right. I’m glad our [vocational expert] … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Women's Health | Comments Off

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Court Of Appeals of Iowa Fails to Resolve Whether Facebook Photos Trigger Rape Shield Rule Analysis

Similar to its federal counterpart, Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.412a, Iowa’s rape shield rule, Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in a criminal case in which a person is accused of sexual abuse, reputation or opinion evidence of the past … Continue reading

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The Oh in Ohio: Court of Appeals of Ohio Shockingly Concludes Rape Shield Rule Doesn’t Cover Nonconsensual Sexual Activity

We disagree with Michael to the extent that it stands for the proposition that the rape shield law has any application to prior sexual abuse suffered by a child victim. In construing the rape shield statute, “our paramount concern is the legislative … Continue reading

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Topeka Misdemeanor Domestic Battery Cases to be Prosecuted by Law Student Interns

In my last post about the Topeka imbroglio, I wondered how vigorously the County DA would prosecute misdemeanor domestic battery cases after the city of Topeka dicriminalized misdemeanor domestic battery and forced the County DA’s hand (by his own admission). … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Topeka Officially Decriminalizes Misdemeanor Domestic Battery

Earlier today, the Topeka City Council, by a vote of 7-3, repealed the local law that makes misdemeanor domestic battery a crime. The move, the councilors were told, would force District Attorney Chad Taylor to prosecute the cases because they would remain … Continue reading

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Placing Topeka’s Possible Decriminalization of Misdemeanor Domestic Battery in Historical Context

After my previous post on the possibility of Topeka decriminalizing misdemeanor domestic battery, I decided to do some research to see if there is any historical precedent for such an action. It turns out that there is (sort of). In … Continue reading

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Topeka City Council to Vote on Measure to Decriminalize Misdemeanor Domestic Battery

Here are some excerpts from the article, Suspected domestic abusers go free as Topeka city, council officials bicker over funds: A bitter argument over money in Topeka, Kan., means that city and county authorities have neglected to prosecute or charge … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

Does an Aggravating Factor Based on “a Difference in the Sexes of the Victim and the Defendant” Violate Equal Protection?

Following up on my previous post, here is another interesting case in a similar vein: State v. Wright, 563 S.E.2d 311 (S.C. 2002). In Wright, Todd Wright was convicted of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. One of … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Does a Law Punishing More Severely a Male’s Assault of a Female Violate Equal Protection?

Eugene Volokh has an interesting post up over at The Volokh Conspiracy. The post discusses G.S. § 14-33(c)(2), which provides that Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who commits any assault, … Continue reading

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Unimpeachable: 7th Circuit Finds Evidence That Sauna Was Used as Place Of Prostitution Inadmissible Under Rape Shield Rule

Like all states, Wisconsin has a rape shield rule. Under Wisconsin’s rule, WIS. STAT. Section 972.11(2)(b), in civil and criminal cases involving alleged sex crimes, any evidence concerning the complaining witness’s prior sexual conduct or opinions of the witness’s prior … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

Breaking Bad: District of Vermont Deems Detention of Pregnant Passenger in Need of Bathroom Break Reasonable So Female Officer (Who Never Took Her to the Bathroom) Could Arrive

Authorities believe that a a vehicle contains narcotics. They detain a passenger and call for a narcotics dog. The dog arrives 45 minutes later. Another 20-30 minutes pass, and the authorities still haven’t conducted the canine sniff. The passenger confesses. … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Can You Hear Me?: Court of Appeals of Texas Finds Failure to Hold In Camera Rape Shield Hearing Isn’t Reversible Error

Similar to its federal counterpart, Texas Rule of Evidence 412(c) provides that if a criminal defendant is trying to present evidence under an exception to the rape shield rule, the defendant must inform the court out of the hearing of … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

A Private Matter?: Military Court Opinion Reveals Problem With Military Rape Shield Rule

Federal Rule of Evidence 412(a), the federal Rape Shield Rule, provides that evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual predisposition or other sexual behavior is inadmissible to establish her propensity to consent to sexual acts and her conformity with that propensity, … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Everything But The Girl: Northern District Of Indiana Opinion Sharpens Split Over Nature Of Affirmative Defense In Single-Instance Harassment Cases

An employer is subject to vicarious liability to a victimized employee for an actionable hostile environment created by a supervisor with immediate (or successively higher) authority over the employee. When no tangible employment action is taken, a defending employer may … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

Gettin’ (Un)Lucky in Kentucky: Court of Appeals of Kentucky Finds Trial Court Erred in Excluding Evidence That Alleged Victim Was a “Crack Whore”

Assume that a defendant is on trial for sexually assaulting a victim. And, assume that the defendant’s defense is, essentially, that the alleged victim is a “crack whore.” Should the defendant be able to present evidence of the alleged victim’s … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 2 Comments

When Innocence Is Pink: Why There Is A Gender Gap In Exonerations of the Wrongfully Convicted and Efforts That Might Shrink It

There are over 60 innocence projects nationwide, and they do tremendous work. According to the Cardozo Innocence Project website, “There have been 271 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history.” The Innocence Project has profiles of each of the exonerees … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Science | Comments Off

As Judge Nancy Gertner Retires, We Lose One of Our Greatest Judges But Gain One of Her Greatest Opinions

Judge Nancy Gertner kicks ass. I remember writing a motion in limine regarding the admissibility of virtual reality evidence for the annual mock technology trial when I was a student at William and Mary. Judge Gertner served as the judge … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

Exception(al) Opinion: Supreme Court of Montana Opinion Might Mean Montana Has Broadest Abuse Exception to Court-Ordered Mediation

Mediation in child custody determinations is popular, partly due to the mediation principle of neutrality, which theoretically gives both parents an equal chance at a fair allocation of parenting time. However, not all divorce cases are appropriate for mediation. In severe cases of intimate partner violence there are … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Article of Interest: Kerri L. Stone’s Clarifying Stereotype

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E) provides that “[a] statement is not hearsay if…[t]he statement is offered against a party and is…a statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy. Rule 801(d)(2)(E) is based … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off

(Non)Consenting Adults: Illinois Opinion Finds Adultery Is Serious Provocation, Sexual Assault Is Not

I’m currently teaching 2nd degree murder in my Criminal Law class and was looking for a good Illinois case on the subject. In Illinois, a defendant who could otherwise be convicted of 1st degree murder can be convicted of 2nd … Continue reading

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Should Courts Award Child-Rearing Damages for “Wrongful Birth” in Cases of the Rape of a Minor?

The issue of whether there should be a right to abortion in cases of rape has arisen again in response to comments by teen sensation Justin Bieber. The 16 year-old pop star was asked about abortion in rape cases, and … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary, Reproductive Rights | 1 Comment

There’s No Sex in Your Violence: Opinion Reveals Minnesota Only Allows Hostile Work Environment Claims Based On Sexual Harassment, Not Gender Discrimination

A female employee brings an action against a school district under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), alleging hostile work environment based upon gender discrimination. The gravaman of her complaint is that her male supervisor made sexist statements about the … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off

The “Inevitable Firing” Approach: How The Inevitable Discovery Doctrine Should Inform Subordinate Discrimination Cases

A company fires an employee. The employee files an action against the company, alleging that the firing was discriminatory. The company moves for summary judgement dismissing the complaint. The fired employee has no direct evidence that the supervisor who fired … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

What Kind Of Right?: Court of Appeals of Michigan Finds Rape Shield Rule Vests Rights In Victims

MCL 750.520j, Michigan’s rape shield statute, provides that: (1) Evidence of specific instances of the victim’s sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct shall not be admitted … unless and only … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Article of Interest: Josephine Ross’ Blaming the Victim: ‘Consent’ Within the Fourth Amendment and Rape Law

It used to be that courts applied an objective definition of consent in rape prosecutions. This was because of traditional force and resistance requirements:   First, courts interpreted the element of force to require that the man overpower the woman or … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Feminist Legal Scholarship | 1 Comment

As Seen on TV?: SDNY Finds Social Framework Testimony Wouldn’t Help Jurors Because Gender Stereotypes are Exposed on Sitcoms & News Reports

Moreover, the Court agrees with the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ reasoning in Ray v. Miller Meester Advertising, Inc., 664 N.W.2d 355 (Minn.Ct.App.2003) wherein the court found that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting Dr. Borgida’s testimony because the … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | 2 Comments

The Wonder State: Eastern District of Arkansas Finds Serious Flaw With Arkansas’ Rape Shield Rule

This Court views the case as illustrating a serious flaw in Arkansas’s criminal justice system, whereby Arkansas applies its rape shield statute in a broad and sweeping fashion without properly focusing on the constitutional rights of the accused. Jackson v. … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

Northern District of California Permits Defendants to Interrogate Title IX Plaintiff About Whether She Consented to Teacher’s Sexual Behavior When She Was 15

A plaintiff claims that she was 15 years-old when she was subjected to sexual molestation by her then 38 year-old teacher at a charter school.  Accordingly, she brings a Section 1983 action (1) against the school and its director/principal for failure to train and … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off