Cases where children are key witnesses – especially those involving child abuse – are among the most challenging facing our justice system. The line between protecting children and preventing the wrongful conviction, or the wrongful termination of parental rights, of an alleged abuser can many times be difficult to determine. The system must also ensure that those accused of crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and are given the right to confront witnesses against them. While some specific policy considerations may outweigh a defendant’s constitutional rights, it is important to understand at which point the line must be drawn. Read More.
Oregon National Guardsman Jessie Bratcher shot and killed Jose Ceja Medina with six hollow-point bullets as Medina stood on his porch on a Saturday morning. Bratcher, who served as a machine gunner in Iraq, would tell his attorney that during the shooting he felt like he was in Kirkuk, Iraq, and that the screams of Medina’s fourteen-year-old nephew, were to Bratcher, the screams of an Iraqi woman. At his trial, Bratcher was found guilty-but-insane due to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) under Oregon’s test for lack of mental capacity, which like the Model Penal Code (MPC) test, assesses both cognitive and volitional mental capacity. Bratcher was sentenced to life under the supervision of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB), where he was evaluated and given a treatment program. Read More.
Kerri Sleeman’s supervisor told her many times: “if [he] could duplicate [her], [he’d] be able to get rid of the rest of the staff.” Sleeman thrived as the supervisor who took over a failing project and turned it around. Yet, when the company proceeded through bankruptcy court, Sleeman discovered that many of the young men she supervised were getting paid more than her. When she spoke up about the discrepancy, her former supervisor unapologetically suggested that the men probably made more because they were the sole breadwinners for their wives and families. Sleeman lost out of more than $10,000 in pay and retirement benefits in the short five years she worked for that company. Unfortunately, Kerri Sleeman’s situation is not unique; almost all working women are impacted by the gender wage gap. Read More.
Sexual assault, though vastly under-reported by survivors, occurs with alarming frequency in the United States. Despite the prevalence of sexual assault, most perpetrators are never caught, arrested, tried, or convicted for their crimes. In addition to enduring the initial trauma of the assault, many survivors are also left to deal with a variety of lasting psychological, emotional, social, and physical effects. Some survivors are even left to deal with the unthinkable — carrying the child of their attacker. Survivors who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault and make the decision to raise the child, may be forced to allow their attackers to share in the benefits of raising that child. Many states can require survivors to allow their attackers to share custody of and visitation rights to children conceived through an assault. New Jersey is among the states that allow for such a possibility. Read More.