Rape Shield: Using Victims’ Rights Laws to Enforce Privacy RightsKeli Luther, Senior Attorney at the Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, and Alison Wilkinson, Attorney with NCVLI

Although every state has some rape shield protections, very few rape shield provision explicitly allow the victim to be present at those hearings.  Additionally, under the rape shield provisions the victim is seldom explicitly allowed to appeal or seek other review if the defendant is successful in allowing the introduction of a victim’s past sexual history.  Those rape shield provisions that do allow for appeal tend to permit it only through the prosecutor, not through the victim (or his or her attorney) directly.  Teleconference presenters discuss rape shield laws in connection with victims’ statutory and constitutional rights under their states’ victims bills of rights.  The presenters discuss the case of Doe v. United States, 666 F.2d 43 (4th Cir. 1981), which held that victims do have standing to challenge adverse rulings at rape shield hearings, and the possible reasons why the case law has not advanced in terms of a victim’s ability to enforce the rape shield laws since this nearly 30-year old case was decided.  The presenters also discuss how victims’ rights provisions can be leveraged to allow victim participation in rape shield proceedings and to create avenues for appellate review.