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Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:06 PM

The Kansas case that could change how rape is charged

Sex crimes are notoriously difficult to prosecute - but one woman in Kansas is using a rarely used 19th Century law to ask her fellow citizens to help bring charges against the man she says raped her.

In 2018, Madison Smith alleged that a classmate attacked her when she was a university student at Bethany College in Kansas. She reported the case as a rape.

The county prosecutor refused to press rape charges, however, saying Ms Smith had merely experienced an "immature" sexual encounter. Her attacker was convicted of assault.

The county attorney's decision prompted Ms Smith, now 23, to use a state law dating back to 1887 to instead call up a "citizen's grand jury". It convened for the first time on Wednesday in what is thought to be the first case of its kind in the US.

A grand jury is usually set up by the officials investigating the case, and determines if there is enough evidence to pursue a prosecution.

This jury, which will meet in secret, will not decide if the accused is guilty or innocent, only if charges should be brought.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58729321

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Kansas case that could change how rape is charged (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Sep 2021 OP
getagrip_already Sep 2021 #1
Thomas Hurt Sep 2021 #2
Old Crank Sep 2021 #9
Jerry2144 Sep 2021 #12
MissMillie Sep 2021 #3
Whatthe_Firetruck Sep 2021 #14
MissMillie Sep 2021 #15
3Hotdogs Sep 2021 #5
Old Crank Sep 2021 #10
ret5hd Sep 2021 #6
Jilly_in_VA Sep 2021 #4
Demsrule86 Sep 2021 #7
Jilly_in_VA Sep 2021 #13
bucolic_frolic Sep 2021 #8
ToxMarz Sep 2021 #11

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:11 PM

1. Sounds scary as hell......

Is this a regular grand jury managed by the courts or is an ad hoc lynch mob?

I'm not commenting on the rape charges here. Just on the process. Think about what magazine would do with this power against dems.......

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Response to getagrip_already (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:13 PM

2. Sounds like DIY grand jury and probably not a good idea. Too easy to be abused.

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Response to Thomas Hurt (Reply #2)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 01:49 PM

9. How

Would this be abused?

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Response to Old Crank (Reply #9)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 02:43 PM

12. Easily

White suprematists could use this to drum up fictitious charges against a person of color and make life heck. Hopefully the courts would withstand this and toss it out. Also, a bunch of trumphumpers could bring a charge against someone. This can easily be used to manufacture criminal charges and to harass or intimidate. But it could also be used for good like this one case. It looks overall that keeping a law like this on the books is too risky for the benefits.

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Response to getagrip_already (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:15 PM

3. Yeah, I'm with you on this

I get that she's frustrated about the lack of a rape prosecution, but I don't think a mob should be brought in to bring charges that a prosecutor thinks he can't prove in a court of law.

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Response to MissMillie (Reply #3)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 05:33 PM

14. Not just can't prove...

...but just because he doesn't want to for whatever reason.

Maybe he sympathizes with the accused (because it's something he'd like to do, subconciously), or thinks 'boys will be boys'. Maybe he doesn't think rape is a 'real crime' because male privilege, and it's not something that would ever happen to him. Or he didn't like the way she dressed, looked, or acted.

There's a lot of reasons why a prosecutor would decline charges, and not all of them are benign.

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Response to Whatthe_Firetruck (Reply #14)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 07:35 PM

15. true enough

but I can't help but wonder what charges prosecutors will be forced to bring upon people if this sets a precedent.

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Response to getagrip_already (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:50 PM

5. Who decides who is on the "jury?"

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Response to 3Hotdogs (Reply #5)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 01:50 PM

10. There is this

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Response to getagrip_already (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:52 PM

6. I believe an accurate description of this...

is that essentially it forces the state to convene a grand jury…with regular grand jury rules…even though the state didn’t want to. Then the case moves through the system as usual: Grand jury says yea/nay, if yea then trial etc.

No lynch mob, just forces the state to let a chosen group of citizens decide if charges are warranted.

But, as always, I may be completely wrong.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:28 PM

4. I had read about this case

awhile ago, but had forgotten it. I admire her for fighting back. I think it might actually be a good idea, but we'll see. It's an old law, and sometimes those really do work.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Reply #4)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 12:56 PM

7. Rape isn't charged often when it should be...What miserable prosecutor...immature sex...I guess

forcing a woman is just immature and all.

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #7)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 02:59 PM

13. Kansass

Although there are a lot of them in other places just as bad. Texass comes to mind.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 01:13 PM

8. Grand juries are seated for long periods because they know the nuance of the law

I can't estimate if laws will be better fitted to charges by ad hoc groups of citizens. Sounds to me like it is passing power to less informed people. Sovereign citizen grand juries? Call me skeptical that this is an improvement.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Sep 30, 2021, 02:36 PM

11. Doesn't really change the way rape per se is charged

It offers an alternative way to get anything charged that the official prosecutors fail to pursue.

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