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January 2013 Archives

Rape kits were often untested by Colorado police

14 Jan 2013 / by The Law Center PC / in Criminal Defense/DUI, Sexual Assault Rape kits were often untested by Colorado police When women in Colorado report being sexually assaulted, police generally have the woman undergo a rape kit, a procedure meant to gather DNA evidence of who committed the crime. Besides establishing the prime suspect, a rape kit can also rule out other potential suspects when their DNA is not a match to the evidence collected.But according to a recent news investigation, law enforcement in Colorado often failed to test rape kits after they have been collected. It is at least theoretically possible that law enforcement’s failure to use all available evidence could have resulted in wrongful convictions for sexual assault.The report said that Denver police have not tested 44 percent of the rape kits they have collected since 2008. The figures for Fort Collins are even worse; 72 percent of rape kits since 2007 have gone untested. Police departments say that they believed that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was not interested in testing of kits when the accuser knows the suspect. That was in error, leaving hundreds of kits wrongfully untested.Lawmakers are quickly reacting to the revelations. Speaker of the Colorado House Frank McNutly said he plans to introduce a bill to require testing of all rape kits. At the federal level, Sen. Michael Bennet introduced a bill in May that would require police departments receiving a particular federal grant to spend 75 percent of the grant money on rape kit testing. It remains to be seen if these pieces of legislation will pass or if Colorado police will test more rape kits.Source: KMGH-TV, “State, federal legislators react after CALL7 investigation into rape kit testing in Colorado,” Keli Rabon and Arthur Kane, Nov. 26, 2012 : The Law Center PC

New Colorado hearsay exception leads to sexual assault conviction

New Colorado hearsay exception leads to sexual assault conviction The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution generally requires witnesses to testify in person at a sexual assault or any other sort of criminal trial. The provision is important because it allows defendants to confront their accusers in court and have the chance to cross-examine them. Out-of-court testimony is called “hearsay” and is mostly kept out of court.However, there are exceptions to the hearsay rule. A new exception in Colorado allows prosecutors to show the jury a video of an interview with an alleged victim of sexual assault if the accuser is developmentally disabled. In those cases, the accuser will not testify in person or be available for questioning by the defense.Under the new statute, developmentally disabled adults will be interviewed by a trained professional. A tape of the interview is then shown to the judge out of the jury’s view. If the judge decides that the testimony is reliable and consistent with other evidence presented by the prosecution, the tape will be allowed at trial.One justification for the new hearsay exception is that mentally disabled people may not clearly remember the details of an incident months after it happened. That was not the case in the recent conviction of a Denver man for sexual assault. The accuser in that case gave detailed testimony in her taped interview. It appears that the judge allowed the hearsay testimony for other reasons. The case was the first in Colorado to involve the new exception. It remains to be seen how criminal courts will apply it in the future.Source: The Denver Post, “Hearsay evidence gets first Colorado trial in Down victim’s rape case,” Jessica Fender, Nov. 20, 2012 : The Law Center PC

What were the most notable divorces in 2012?

What were the most notable divorces in 2012? No year goes by without high-profile celebrity marriages coming to an end. Some gather more press than others, depending on the circumstances. Let’s take a look back at the most notable celebrity couples who went through a divorce or separation this year. As usual, there were quite a few of them. They ranged from couples married barely a year to one who had been together for three decades.• Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. One might say this couple’s split happened abruptly, and it was noted in the media that Cruise was as surprised as the couple’s fans. There were also rumors that Holmes was unhappy with exposing their daughter Suri to Scientology.• Russell Brand and Katy Perry. This one was not as shocking, but still made headlines nonetheless. The couple was married for just over a year and divorced last summer.• Amy Poehler and Will Arnett. The estranged couple has two small children and had been together nine years. Both NBC comedy stars, they had appeared together recently at awards shows, so their split definitely turned some heads.• Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito. Speaking of turning heads, DeVito and Perlman, both of whom are in their 60s, maintained one of Hollywood’s longest marriages — about 30 years so far — so their separation definitely was a surprise to many.• Heidi Klum and Seal. They were not together nearly as long as DeVito and Perlman, but they did have four children together. Klum filed for divorce last spring, citing irreconcilable differences.Source: SF Gate, “Celebrity marriages and divorces in 2012,” Dec. 26, 2012 : The Law Center PC

Unfriending your spouse? Marriages are growing casualty of Facebook.

Unfriending your spouse? Marriages are growing casualty of Facebook. A recent study points out what marriage experts and divorce attorneys have been saying for years: Facebook can be a factor in divorce. The study by Loyola Medicine shows that as many as one in five divorces cites Facebook as a factor in the divorce. Whether Facebook was the root cause or just a symptom of problems that already existed in the marriage, it clearly is playing a role in more divorce filings in Colorado and elsewhere.Facebook has been heralded as a growing influence on society because it allows people to connect with new friends and others with their same interests virtually in an instant. It also allows people to re-connect with former classmates and old friends and flames. It’s this last category that seems to cause the most damage in a marriage. Out of curiosity or with less virtuous intentions, a husband or wife might spy on or friend an old boyfriend or girlfriend. If spouses begin to communicate privately with an ex, it may not bode well for the marriage.Divorce lawyers have reported that their clients have brought in pages of printed Facebook communications as evidence of the other spouse’s betrayal or alienation in the marriage. Some family law attorneys have admitted to spying on the opposing party’s public Facebook profile, Twitter feed or other social media outlet for information about the other party’s activities outside of the courtroom. Online photo albums on Facebook or MySpace accounts have been a particular goldmine for divorcing spouses. Evidence of late night partying, salacious pictures of new girlfriends or boyfriends, or postings that contradict a court filing or allegation can blow open an acrimonious divorce or child custody battle.While Facebook profile privacy settings can be set to prevent certain people from viewing a Facebook profile, they are not foul-proof. If any current Facebook “friends” allow a divorcing spouse access to the other spouse’s profile, then a privacy setting is useless. Some judges have even considered admitted evidence of Facebook postings or photos because allowing several dozen or hundred friends to view a Facebook profile or photo album means that it cannot be protected as a private or confidential communication in a marital dissolution or child custody action.Are you contemplating a divorce or a difficult custody battle? Deactivating your Facebook profile may be your best course of action.Source:ABC 11: “Experts Say Facebook Can Cause Divorce,” 4 March 2011 : The Law Center PC
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