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Legal Ethics

Judge Who Ordered Rape-Victim Polygraphs May Be Reconsidering

Posted Apr 27, 2010 2:49 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An Ohio juvenile judge who ignited a firestorm of criticism by ordering young sexual assault victims to take lie-detector tests after she found their alleged attackers delinquent seems to be reconsidering whether the polygraphs were a good idea.

Although Cuyahoga County Juvenile Judge Alison Floyd hasn't commented publicly about her handling of the cases, she said in a journal entry that she ordered the lie-detector tests for a victim and the defendant in one case to resolve the "significant discrepancy" in their stories and "verify his truthfulness to determine an appropriate treatment services and an appropriate victim and community safety plan," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

At the same time, however, she acknowledged that she lacks jurisdiction to order a victim to take a lie-detector test after resolving the case with a delinquency finding. At this point, none of the victims has complied with the judge's polygraph order, according to the newspaper.

The judge's action was opposed by victims, women's advocacy groups and prosecutors, who argued in one filing that the judge was trying to re-investigate a decided case. Ms. Magazine also editorialized that it violates the federal Violence Against Women Act and might violate Ohio's rape shield law to treat victims in this manner.

"We are very concerned that these actions will discourage other rape survivors from coming forward," says Megan O'Bryan of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, which has worked with some teen victims concerned. "All survivors should feel believed and supported at all stages of the criminal justice process, but especially after their perpetrator is found guilty or adjudicated."

A bailiff in Floyd's courtroom says she may comment on the cases once they are resolved.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Juvenile Judge Orders 4 Sex-Assault Victims to Take Polygraph Test"

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