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Around the Blawgosphere: Media Getting Rape Case Wrong, Bloggers Say; Will LinkedIn Take Over?


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In 2008, a Connecticut jury found Richard Fourtin Jr. guilty of sexually assaulting a woman with severe cerebral palsy. But in 2009, state appellate court, considering “the sole issue of whether the jury reasonably could have found that the state introduced sufficient evidence to prove that the victim was unable to communicate her lack of consent to the defendant’s sexual advances,” later concluded that the state didn’t make its case, and reversed. Last month, the state supreme court affirmed the appellate court’s decision.

This week, legal bloggers have taken on coverage in the Connecticut Post, The Huffington Post and elsewhere characterizing the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling in State v. Fourtin (PDF) as one in which the court overturned the case on the grounds that the victim—who can’t speak and can only move one finger—could have resisted her attacker but didn’t.

“To lawyers, criminal defense lawyers at least, it was quite a solid decision,” Scott Greenfield wrote at Simple Justice. “The defendant was charged under a narrow statute, limited to the rape of an unconscious person, and the victim may have had cerebral palsy, but wasn’t unconscious. There were other subdivisions of the law under which the defendant could have been charged, but wasn’t. The prosecutor blew it. He charged the defendant for the wrong crime.”

Popehat’s “Ken,” is as outraged as anyone else familiar with the case, but writes that he reserves some of his outrage for the prosecutors. “I’m outraged that the prosecution made a lousy and seemingly inexplicable call. I’m outraged that someone who sexually assaulted a profoundly handicapped woman goes free because of incompetence. But I’m not outraged that the state has to prove that you’re guilty of the specific crime you’re charged with to put you in prison. That’s fundamental to due process.”

“Gideon” first blogged about the ruling last week at a public defender. But he did a follow-up post this week to take on an op-ed at the Hartford Courant written by a 21-year-old recent college graduate, and also noted in an update of the same post that Boing Boing updated its initial coverage of the case to include links to his and Popehat’s posts.


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Image from Shutterstock.

Will Law Blogs Move to LinkedIn?

At her eponymous blog, DLA Piper Web manager Molly Porter took note of the limited release of LinkedIn’s new blogging platform that’s built right in to profile pages.

“Right now, this feature is limited to about 150 thought leaders and influencers like Richard Branson and President Obama, but I fully expect it to be rolled out to all users eventually,” Porter wrote.

And if it is, she wonders if lawyers and law firms who want to publish content will start doing so on LinkedIn rather than on law firm blogs connected to law firm websites. “If a lawyer wants to publish content—and getting it done via marketing isn’t lightning fast and easy peasy—which do you think he or she is going to choose? What’s better—seamlessly delivering your thoughts to an audience of 500 qualified readers that you know personally, or following established firm protocol and procedure which can be byzantine and bureaucratic? One of these options looks like an easy button to me.”

At the very least, Porter writes, digital marketers like herself will advise lawyers to cross-post their blog content at LinkedIn if this feature becomes universally available.

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