No means no: Vote NO on retaining rapist-protector Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni

If you like, you can head over and read RussDiamond's ranting about PACleanSweep and their plan to defeat all the judges up for retention. But this isn't about that.

I have to confess that I typically vote against retention unless I have a specific reason to vote for a judge, because I think retention elections are dumb. I haven't decided what I'll do this time; I don't really align myself with PACleanSweep.

However, PACleanSweep or no, you must vote no on retaining Teresa Carr Deni. She just made a catastrophic ruling so activist and with such blatant disregard for the law and the roles of the legislature and jury that she is clearly not competent to sit on the bench.

She decided that a prostitute, who had agreed to have sex with two men for a certain amount of money, and who was then gang raped at gunpoint by five men and given no money, was not a victim of rape but merely a victim of "theft of services".

The law is quite clear: rape is having sex with a victim by forcible compulsion. And once there's a gun in her face and she's saying no, that is forcible compulsion. Doesn't matter how she makes her living, doesn't matter what was said before. These jerks were forcibly compelling this woman to have sex, and in taking the decision away from the jury, this judge ignored the law.

You can read about this appalling disgrace at Feministe or Philly.com

PACleanSweep believes that all the judges have violated the Constitution and thus proven themselves unfit to sit on the bench. That may be, but it is certainly a more esoteric argument than this one, where the law, the allegations and the subsequent gross dereliction of duty are absolutely clear.

VOTE NO ON RETAINING JUDGE TERESA CARR DENI.

This is stunning. More soon

This is stunning. More soon on what we should do about it.

This is unacceptable.

This is unacceptable. Period.

There is a lot of press bashing happening in some of the other threads. I want to point out that Jill Porter featured this item in her column and deserves credit for drawing attention to this issue.

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digging a bit deeper

This is an interesting conversation. It's good to see that people's initial response to this story is an unequivocal refusal to accept rape in any form. However, Judge Deni's comments are far from unusual in our rape culture:

"I thought rape was a terrible trauma."


A case like this, she said - to my [Jill Porter's] astonishment - "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped."

"True rape," in my book is any time someone has sex with someone else and they don't really want to. The law is much more specific in talking about the use or threat of force, but not all rapes come with beatings and really rough sex. I wonder if everyone agrees with that.

I had a really emotional conversation about this

after the Comso article about "gray rape" hit the internet.

I don't think I can summarize my thoughts on this or that I necessarily want to in this forum, but basically I totally agree with Ray but don't think the law can deal with this well ("not all rapes come with beatings and really rough sex") and I think society really has to figure it out, because the incredibly demoralizing experience of losing sexual agency is one that a ton of women share.

And that experience is basically unrecognized: legally, linguistically and even just consciously.

I'll add the hopefully obvious caveat that I think the law is pretty clear in THIS case and it is awful that it failed this woman (I know these are the big dramatic news stories, but I can't help place this in a line with the Tracy McIntyre rape case and the revelation that the Phila police had a policy of not registering rape complaints; these reflect some huge deepseated cultural problems with how we deal with even the small fragment of rapes that are viable for prosecution).

right, so there are two things going on

I agree with Jennifer. The law in this case seems clear, but the context of a rape culture is what is getting in the way here.

Which leaves me with two questions:

1- This judge made the wrong call. How many judges make the wrong call every day and what is the process for correcting them? Is unelecting them the only option?

2- This is about a rape culture: women's expression of sexuality is condemned in our culture and men's exploitation of women's sexuality is condoned and encouraged. Judge Deni sure screwed up, but why is she receiving more venom then the men who raped the woman who came before her bench, or the men, in general, who don't do anything about our rape culture?

One other note, again riffing off Jennifer, considering how few cases of rape are brought to the police, and consequently prosecuted, how many other times do judges dismiss charges against defendants at the MC level? This case has some bells and whistles that elevate its media attention, but I'd be surprised if this did not happen a lot, and probably as much, if not more, on the benches of male judges.

Tangent: was the victim in this case charged for sexual solicitation/prostitution? I find it really interesting if she was not, especially with the ruling of Deni for theft of services. Does that set up any kind of precedent to legalize sex work?

While I appreciate what you

While I appreciate what you are saying, especially in thinking about the big picture, I think this is a little over the top:

2- This is about a rape culture: women's expression of sexuality is condemned in our culture and men's exploitation of women's sexuality is condoned and encouraged. Judge Deni sure screwed up, but why is she receiving more venom then the men who raped the woman who came before her bench, or the men, in general, who don't do anything about our rape culture?

First, I think she gets attention because this is a politically tilted website, and she is an elected official. And, she is a judge, sitting at the center of our justice system.

Second, in terms of the outrage against the alleged perps: the outrage is that alleged rapists won't even have to stand trial, so, I don't really think there is some lack of understanding of the character of these guys. What would you prefer people do in this situation to better show their outrage against them, bring pitchforks to their homes?

In terms of legal precedent, no, nothing good will come out of it. A MC judge can't just decide to legalize an explicitly illegal act under PA law.

I hope you are right that this raises awareness of how rape victims are treated by the justice system, in general. One thing seems clear is that from the outside at least (and knowing little facts, obviously, beyond the newspaper account), is that the PPD and DA appeared to be doing the right thing.

what's over the top?

Rape goes on every second of the day. The only reason this issue got attention on this blog is because Jill Porter wrote about it and the only reason she did that is because it was a case involving a sex worker who was raped by five men.

You haven't really answered my questions. I'll rephrase:

1- I know what the law says about rape. How often do judges, on a percentage basis, follow it and how often do they let rapists off the hook?

2- Is the law about rape enough to stop it from happening or help people who are the victims of rape?

3- When judges make what seem to be obvious mis-steps in terms of the law, what is the best process to address them?

What is over the top is

What is over the top is asking why aren't people more pissed at the alleged rapists. (And maybe this is all sort of tone that is lost in typing, in terms of your point.) But again, in terms of these guys, what exactly should we be advocating for to show a proper amount of outrage? Vigilante justice? The judge short circuited the system, letting these guys not go to trial. What outrage would you like to see against these guys?

In terms of your questions:

1) How often do judges simply not let rape cases get to trial in Philly? I am sure it is inexact, but someone from the DA might know that.

2) Of course not. The only somewhat comparable analogy I can think of is a Hate Crime Bill (like this one). Does the Matthew Sheppard Law end racism, homophobia, and violence that comes out of it? No, because (I know I am stating the obvious) there are much bigger societal factors at play. The justice system will never be a societal balm that will "fix" us like that.

3) There is a two tiered system in PA that deals with judicial conduct. I have no idea how well it is followed (and it appears to be partially governed by Dick Sprague). That said, when a judge does something like this, if true- then not retaining them seems like a pretty good process.

As an aside, I think eventually these charges will be reinstated under a different judge.

who is over the top?

I don't think it is over the top to wonder why so much rage about that issue is being directed at a female judge, when so little else is ever said about it. Ever.

Like it or not, this judge is by no means alone in her ignorance or her self-hate.

That said, I am not sure not retaining her in this election does much good. As I have already mentioned she has a reputation for being good on landlord-tenant issues. I trust any male judge less than her to be bad on rape cases (and I am sure there is some research out there some there on how rape charges do in court across the board). Or in other words, I have no faith in the legal system to protect rape victims and I never have (based on past experiences).

As I have also said, it is illogical to me to use electoral power to meddle with a system that most of us agree should not be as electoral and partisan as it is. If there is no other way to censure or reprimand this judge (after an ethics committee or whatever looks at the transcript and determines she was wrong) and voting no on her retention is a way to wake up the judiciary to take rape more seriously and stop judges from personally judging people's sexual behavior, I am all for it. However, I tend to doubt that a "no" vote on her retention will elict that result.

Again, what outrage would

Again, what outrage would you like to be shown towards the alleged rapists, beyond trying to put them in jail?

problem, solution logic

i guess I am not being clear. Asking us to vote no on Judge Deni goes against my principles regarding the bizarre judicial election process we have here. I don't really want to vote for her retention in November, but I don't really want to vote against it. An affirmative or negative vote both have the same effect of legitimizing popular election of judges.

In this case, I would vote no, against my principles if i thought it would make any kind of concrete difference for the victims of rape. However, I don't think that will happen. In short, I don't like the polemic nature of this discussion.

I am not addressing you personally Dan, but there is a tendency in communities to get collectively outraged about a "problem" and devise a "solution" (in this case a no vote on Deni) and then be done. Problem solved.

My point again, is that this kind of linear thinking re: rape is not going to take us far. I think this kind of logic is sometimes enacted by people who have privilege (like male privilege) to show solidarity without actually giving up any of their own power (a criticism I would make of blogs in general, the more I think about it).

In this case, aside from being mad at Deni, no one has even written a sentence in this blog that condemns the five men who gang-raped this woman. Go back and check all 25 comments (as of this writing) and see if you can find any statement that condemns male rapists. So I am not suggesting vigilante justice or any other remedy to deal with these rapists, but I do think asking for a "no" vote on Deni, without better answers to questions about how often rape cases are not prosecuted, and more discussion on other systemic judicial, police procedural, and societal problems around rape are in order.

It may well be that we all agree that deni has to go--I am already half way there thinking that--but I would like to see all of us agree to that from a shared platform that includes a broader analysis of rape and the judiciary as well as rape and society.

I disagree

Ray...from the fact that not one of the 25 posts condemns male rapists you can't conclude that we condone rape. The very nature of the discussion is that we live in a society governed by the rule of law not vigilantism (sp?) and those that are upset by the judge's ruling and have stated so on YPP, are less than happy with the ruling and/or system that would presumably allow 5 men to gang rape a woman at gunpoint and have the rape charges dismissed to stand trial for theft of services because they had consensual sex with a prostitute and failed to pay.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Seth

I agree with Seth.

I haven't commented on this thread at all, but I would sure home my silence is not construed to condone any criminal conduct. I thought the issue was the judge's ruling, not the men involved. The title gives it away.

As for the men, I really do not know what to say. The crime is henious and whatever punishment is received (if any) and under any charge is not enough.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

In terms of judges

In terms of judges specifically , a retention system can play an important part in a good system. (For example, the system of Judicial Selection that Seth talks up, which is Merit selection with a later retention vote.) I think retention votes would matter, if they mattered. In other words, if judges actually thought there was a chance they would be voted out based on their record, then they might not short circuit the system and effectively mock the woman afterwards.

In terms of these guys specifically, with this:

In this case, aside from being mad at Deni, no one has even written a sentence in this blog that condemns the five men who gang-raped this woman. Go back and check all 25 comments (as of this writing) and see if you can find any statement that condemns male rapists.

Don't you think that is sort of understood? I think we are far enough along on here that I understand that just about everybody condemns gang rape by gun point, and I don't think it really needs to be said. If people didn't condemn these guys, there would be no need to be pissed off at the judge in the first place.

As for your larger question, I get what you are saying: The danger that everyone votes no, pats themselves on the back, and is done with this problem. But, while I get that is the wrong attitude, I also think that within a much more complicated problem, there is a much more specific, time sensitive question: Do you want to retain a judge who thumbs her nose at an alleged rape victim? (And, yes, I do think to answer that, we should know whether this is a common practice, too. But, given the reaction of the DA and the PPD, it doesn't appear to be.)

getting tanagental, but...

Dan, you say:

Don't you think that is sort of understood? I think we are far enough along on here that I understand that just about everybody condemns gang rape by gun point

I don't think we are far enough along. The people involved in this conversation are great, but in general, as a larger society, women who treat their sexuality like a man treats his, are condemned. Deni's ruling is not about rape, it's about her attitude toward a sex worker that violates societal rules toward women's sexuality. Deni's biggest offense is mentioning that the victim in this case had another client after her rape. When it comes to rape, a lot of people, like Deni, first ask whether or not a woman did something to deserve what she got.

She apparently can't see rape as anything other than a random, annonymous attack on a "virtuous" woman. Whereas I would say rape is any time someone ends up having any kind of sex with someone they don't want to or did not sign up for, so matter what the circumstances.

I am not asking for everyone to sing kumbaya to signal their agreement with this. tThis confusion about what rape is is the issue that is driving the actions in this story, and is therefore worthy of consideration on its own. Asking for a "no" vote like that's gonna solve everything about rape is sort of an insult to my intelligence, when the frame here is so much bigger.

Oy, a couple things

I broadly agree with Ray's feeling like a popular retention vote is maybe not the best (or at least, exclusive) avenue to go here: partially because the judicial election process in general is a problem in itself, and partially because I feel instinctively that the censure and disciplinary process within the judiciary is the way to go.

A lot about this reminds me of the Tracy McIntosh case (I got the name wrong before; that's the Penn neurology professor who allegedly drugged and did rape his friend's neice when he was supposed to be showing her the university, and who got incredibly lenient house arrest from the Common Pleas judge who sentenced him.) Tons of pressure led to the vacating of that ruling by the PA Supreme Court and basically forced the judge to remove himself. Though I think the DA's strong position really helped the eventual resolution in that case. I do think the continued publicity around that case as it wound through the appeals and resentencing process was helpful in forcing confrontation of some of these issues within the judiciary.

I have something else to say about this

Deni's biggest offense is mentioning that the victim in this case had another client after her rape.

but I am going to say it below.

Is that what is being said?

That a "no" vote will solve everything about rape?

You say:

"Whereas I would say rape is any time someone ends up having any kind of sex with someone they don't want to or did not sign up for, so matter what the circumstances."

I agree. I will go further and say that, I believe that someone can withdraw their consent from sex during the process. In this case, that is exactly what happened. It seemed the woman consented to have sex with one, maybe two people (regardless of the motive, monetary, etc.) But, in my view, the moment a threat of violence or violence itself was introduced, she no longer consented. The moment she was being taken advantage of, she no longer consented.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

2 of 3 Answers

Ray...I am not quite sure how to answer your second question, I am not exactly clear what you meant. Regarding questions 1 & 3.

1- A study conducted by the Philadelphia Inquirer found that nearly two-thirds of all felony cases in Philadelphia are discharged for either lack of prosecution (failure of the government to proceed) or lack of evidence (failure to establish the requisite level of evidence after proceeding).

The standard of evidence needed to hold a case for trial at a Municipal Court preliminary hearing is prima facie. This is the lowest standard in all of jurisprudence. The highest standard is beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard required for the government to meet its burden of proof in a criminal trial.

The number of all cases discharged at the preliminary hearing level in Philadelphia is a matter of public record and should be available for you by contacting court administration if the numbers are not published by Philadelphia's District Attorney. From my experience, I would venture to say that the number of rapes discharged via D.L.O.P. or D.L.O.E. are consistent with the same percentages of other felonies.

3. When a Municipal Court judge discharges a case for lack of prosecution (D.L.O.P.) the remedy available to the District Attorney is to have the defendent re-arrested and charged again. If the judge discharges for lack of evidence (D.L.O.E.) the remedy is a little more difficult. The D.A. has to have the defendant re-arrested but the re-arrested defendant's preliminary hearing would be heard before a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, because another M.C. judge can't in effect over rule the D.L.O.E. of another M.C. judge.

Those are the first level of remedies for what the prosecutor feels are errors. the defense has a similar ability to file a motion to quash in the Court of Common Pleas if it is their opinion that charges were held for court against the evidence or settled law.

If the public feels that a jurist is "chronically wrong" the legislative remedy is the vote for retention.

Hope I didn't bore you.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Seth

heard about this

...but didn't realize it was one of our locals.
which court does she sit on?

acm

Edit: apparently I can't read a headline. nevermind...

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Damn.

Theft of services? That's hideous.

Yesterday, I got faxed a bunch of articles about president judge William Baldwin in Schuylkill County who made three bail errors. As a result, a now-convicted child rapist walked off on $1500 bond.

Are they certain they want people to "examine their records on the bench?"

Hobson's choice

I worry that we are setting up a Hobson's choice.

As we talked about before the primary, Municipal Court judges mostly are the judge of the people--dealing with smaller cases and matters that are often of grave importance to low-income people. When it comes to criminal cases, MC judges preside (I belive) only over the pre-hearings. The real decisions are made at the Common Pleas level.

I hear Deni is not a bad judge on landlord-tenant issues--bread and butter of MC activity.

She clearly mishandled this case (unless a look at the transcripts reveals something else) but in a system where most of us agree that straight up elections are bad, is it good to unelect judges when they do something dumb? That seems like a strange choice to have to make. After all, if a judge did something as stupid in an appointed system, would they be fired or reprimanded?

I am not defending Deni's position on rape (which is very madonna/whore and coupled with a twisted second-wave feminist perspective), but I am wondering if she should be unelected because of it.

I worry that I went through

I worry that I went through four years of college and still don't know what a Hobson's choice is.

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Hobson's Choice

From Wikipedia:

Hobson's choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered. The choice is therefore between taking the option or not taking it. The phrase is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544–1630), a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door—or taking none at all.

-Z

Municipal Court

Ray:

FYI...Municipal Court judges are elected to six year terms, and may serve until they are 70 years of age. While you are correct that on the civil side Municipal Court judges preside over landlord tennant hearings, the majority of listings before the Municipal Court are in its criminal division. In the criminal division the Municipal Court judges preside over preliminary hearings for all felonies that are prosecuted in Philadelphia, and they are the court of original jurisdiction for all misdemeanor trials. In addition to trial matters, Municpal Court judges also approve arrest warrants, search warrants, and pre-trial motions.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Seth

Slow Down...

Every citizen of the world has inherent rights and among those are the right to speak about their government. My concern, with Jill Porter's article and this blog posting is that it leaves out relevant facts.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, every person who is arrested for a crime receives a preliminary hearing before to judge to ascertain two important things before the case proceeds to trial. The first is to determine that the crime alleged took place and secondly to determine if there is a fair probability that the person who committed this crime is the defendant in the case.

Judges are to look at the evidence and to make a decision based off the fact. While the weight of the case law states that a credibility of the witness(es) is not an issue at the preliminary hearing this is counterintuitive to the fact that the witness is sworn under oath. Should a Judge simply ignore a lying witness because “credibility is not an issue.” Doing so would all but ascertain that anyone could make any salacious allegation against a person with no recourse to the witness and to the absolute detriment of the alleged defendant. Please note, that I am not suggesting in no way that the defendant in Judge Deni's case is lying or was not credible.

The fact remains however that Judges are human. They are people born to a man and a woman. They begin as infants, progress as toddlers, advance to adolescence and at some point become adults. As a result of their humanity, they are fallable and make mistakes as all of us do. In their infinte wisdom, the forefathers of both our nation and state set up appellate courts to review decisions that people felt were injust, against the weight of evidence, or achieved through evidence that should not have been admissible under the applicable rules of evidence. This holds true with preliminary hearings. The District Attorney's Office has the right to re-arrest the defendant on the discharged charges and to take the matter before a higher court, in this particular case it would be the Court of Common Pleas. What seems conspicuously missing from this story, if the District Attorney's Office is indeed as outraged about this decision as they proclaim, is that they had the defendant re-arrested.

In November, there are a number of Judges whom I will vote to retain and not to retain. However, I will not base my decision off of one judicial decision just as I hope that when I meet my ultimate Judge one day, one error will not be the deciding factor. I would encourage you to obtain the transcript from that day's proceeding before making decisions. I would also encourage you to call the District Attorney's Office and if you are outraged by the story to encourage that this case be reviewed. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marhsall one said while speaking to a gather of Judges that “Our central function is to act as neutral arbiters of disputes that arise under the law. To this end, we bind ourselves through our own code of ethics to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or partiality. We must handle the cases that come before us without regard for what result might meet with public approval. We must decide each case in accordance with the law. We must not reach for a result that we, in our arrogance, believe will further some goal not related to the concrete case before us. And we must treat the litigants in every case in an evenhanded manner. It would be as wrong to favor the prosecution in every criminal case...”

I plan to vote for Judges who decide their cases in accordance with the law. Will you join me?

While I agree that judges

While I agree that judges are human, it seems like

1)she expressly did not follow the law. To not even let a case get to trial is a pretty egregious violation to me, when she knew that there was a gun involved:

Rape defined:

A person commits a felony of the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

1. By forcible compulsion.
2. By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution.
....

It seems pretty clear there is a question of fact for a jury to determine here, right? There is no question that if someone is holding a gun next to you, you have no ability to resist. And considering the guy allegedly did the same exact thing a couple days later, there is obviously something there. Yet she dismissed it, and then...

2) ...Her remarks afterwards, in the newspaper, were even worse. She basically dismissed the claim offhand with this:

"Did she tell you she had another client before she went to report it?" Deni asked me yesterday when we met at a coffee shop.

"I thought rape was a terrible trauma."

In other words, the hooker had to be lying. Not exactly what I want out of a jurist.

That said, I agree that we should try and get a transcript of the hearing, and that is what we are trying to do.

I just wrote this out and lost it

But this

"Did she tell you she had another client before she went to report it?" Deni asked me yesterday when we met at a coffee shop.

is what upsets me most.

It's not fair to psychoanalyze a woman based on a couple newspaper sentences, but this (a woman acting in a way that is "at odds" with sexual trauma) is familar and comprehensible to me. It's a refusal or inability to accept what has happened to you, and it is the same thing that leads a woman whose friend or date raped her to let him sleep in her bed or to go to coffee with him the next morning.

Experiences of sexual coercion run a huge continuum from this sort of clear rape that just does not fit our violence-and-physical-resistance model all the way to situations where consent IS given but it is given but not willingly (there is emotional coercion, there is fear, "justified" or not).

I am concerned with rape law--which, though Dan is right cannot fix everything, does have some norm-shifting potential (hi, Marc!)--and with police and prosecution procedure.

But as many "real" rapes as we need to make sure we are capturing through the criminal process, there are a ton that are honestly too messy for the law. There are situations where it would not be reasonable to prosecute something as rape, because what reasonably did appear to be consent was given. But those can and do still FEEL exactly like rape and I am very concerned that we as a society figure out how to recognize them.

I am adding something

in response to emailing with Ray.

In my comments on this point, I didn't and don't want to be too specific about speculating about someone's emotional relationship to their sex work, because it would be almost-totally speculative to me. But there are a lot of ways that what Judge Deni acted mystified by make sense to me.

Also, it may or may not be evident but I have some pretty paternalistic ideas about consent given by women within a society with such gender-based power imbalances, that are probably totally unintentionally derived from reading Catherine Mackinnon less critically that I thought I was.

Sex Crimes Continuum

Jennifer...

You are right, there are many situations that do not easily fit into our stereotype of rape. That is the reason that many legislatures are adding and deleting definitions and entire parts of their crimes codes, so that the charges can fit the world that we live in today and the world we would prefer to live in tomorrow.

It is ironic for me to discuss the shifting continuum that you speak of. I am currently in Italy with the Army and I will be prosecuting a case tomorrow under the Army's old definition of sex crimes. As of October 1st an entirely new section of the Uniform code of Military Justice applies to soldiers, sailors and seamen that tries to carve out more layers of the "continuum".

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Seth

So interesting

but ironic, and sad, that so many of us can see this story and find personal reverberations. The issues are really not at all cordoned off, and affect most of us pretty directly.

What seems conspicuously

What seems conspicuously missing from this story, if the District Attorney's Office is indeed as outraged about this decision as they proclaim, is that they had the defendant re-arrested.

From near the end of Jill Porter's piece:

[Assistant DA] DeSipio said he'll file to reinstate the charges in both cases right away - before a different judge, of course.

I hope the Bar Association revisits their recommendation

Outside of the excellent points others have raised:

"Deni let stand a charge of theft of services" from:
http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/10/16/when-is-rape-at-gunpoin...

I'm not a lawyer - but I don't think you can have a theft of service charge for an illegal activity.

Please - retire.

I plan to write a letter to Bar Assoc. asking them to rescind

I missed this one on Friday, but learned about it tonight thanks to local blogs which are keeping this alive.

As soon as I get approval from my executive committee (which should be a no-brainer), I plan to write a letter to Bar Assoc. asking them to rescind their recommendation that Deni be retained.

Karen Bojar
President
Philadelphia NOW

That's great news, Karen,

That's great news, Karen, thanks.

Will Philadelphia NOW be distributing a November election newsletter reiterating your May endorsements and perhaps making recommendations on retention votes, including this one?

Seek to reprimand

People can vote however they want -- balancing out Deni's reprehensible act with her other records -- but it seems like the very least folks should do is seek multiple ways to reprimand Judge Deni's decision in this case. The suggestion to go to the D.A. is one, Karen's idea is another excellent venue. Isn't there a state judiciary ethics board? I believe anyone can register a complaint there as well.

Yes, there is a State

Yes, there is a State Judicial Conduct Board. The Feministe post directs readers there. However, the first item in their FAQ says:

For example, the Board will not review or change any legal ruling or pass judgment on a judge's exercise of discretion regardless of the correctness of that ruling or exercise of discretion. These complaints of "legal error" can only be considered by courts created by the Constitution to hear cases on appeal.

So, I don't think that that's an effective route to take. The appeals suggested by the Judicial Conduct Board are being addressed by the DAs office.

No Means No

Working with sexual abuse survivors and perpetrators alike, those words should be a mantra to those that think they are entitled to do as they please (or that no means "keep asking and then it will be yes.")

True consent has 5 major components:

Same age/developmental status (hence our age of consent laws)
honesty
permission to say no without negative consequence
understanding and agreement of what is to happen
understanding of consequences of behavior.

I do not condone this young woman working her trade via Craigslist or in any other manner and I don't believe she took the best precautions to keep herself safe. The young men, however, are completely culpable for this heinous act because the act did not meet the last 4 components (unsure of ages of all the defendants). Working in the Juvenile Justice System is also challenging because the values of many of the judges often affect the outcome of the case moreso than the clinical and quantitative data about offenders and their behavior. This judge completely endorses the fallacy that she "asked for it" and deserved what she got. No wonder young men are so confused about what's OK and what's not.

Integrate, don't separate! Make Brewerytown Great!

Is it a wonder Judge Deni is so terrible, when...

... I got an email from Planned Parenthood Advocates just now worth sharing. I should warn you, mean, stupid and terrible things about members of our state legislature will be revealed:

Dear Ray,

We are once again approaching a vote by the state House of Representatives on House Bill 288: emergency contraception for rape victims.

The opposition is running scared because more legislators are realizing the importance and widespread public support of this issue. Like most do when they have their backs to the wall, those opposed to providing standard care for rape victims without exception are trying to pull out all the stops to water down this legislation. Their latest effort?

An amendment introduced by Rep. Grucela which "allows" a victim to call an immediate family member about her assault, who would be expected to bring emergency contraception to the hospital, rather than have it provided by the medical professionals in charge of her care.

We don't expect a victim to sew up her own stitches! Why is it if she's a victim of rape, she's subjected to a lesser standard of medical care!? This arrangement also ignores the precarious nature of incest, and leaves out hundreds of women without family members nearby! There are still some legislators who have not made a decision on this particular amendment. Please call your House member and make sure they have the facts straight!

Support House Bill 288 with the Ross amendment.

Oppose the Grucela amendment, and any additional amendments to the bill.

If your legislator happens to be Rep. Grucela, let his office know you are appalled that he would even consider an amendment that puts the burden of care on the victim rather than medical providers.
You can reach your legislator, Rep. James Roebuck at (717) 783-1000.

CLICK HERE to let us know that you called!

This too-little too-late amendment is another poor excuse for compassionate care. Please take a moment to call today to get your legislator on record!

Okay well here is some semi-related PA-based activism for you

From Planned Parenthood:

We are once again approaching a vote by the state House of Representatives on House Bill 288: emergency contraception for rape victims.

The opposition is running scared because more legislators are realizing the importance and widespread public support of this issue. Like most do when they have their backs to the wall, those opposed to providing standard care for rape victims without exception are trying to pull out all the stops to water down this legislation. Their latest effort?

An amendment introduced by Rep. Grucela which "allows" a victim to call an immediate family member about her assault, who would be expected to bring emergency contraception to the hospital, rather than have it provided by the medical professionals in charge of her care.

We don't expect a victim to sew up her own stitches! Why is it if she's a victim of rape, she's subjected to a lesser standard of medical care!? This arrangement also ignores the precarious nature of incest, and leaves out hundreds of women without family members nearby! There are still some legislators who have not made a decision on this particular amendment. Please call your House member and make sure they have the facts straight!

You can find your House rep here, at hallwatch.org.

Support House Bill 288 with the Ross amendment.
Oppose the Grucela amendment, and any additional amendments to the bill.
If your legislator happens to be Rep. Grucela, let his office know you are appalled that he would even consider an amendment that puts the burden of care on the victim rather than medical providers.

This too-little too-late amendment is another poor excuse for compassionate care. Please take a moment to call today to get your legislator on record!

jinx!

we posted the same comment at the same exact time!

haha

um, that means everyone should REALLY follow up on this.

That means Jennifer can't

That means Jennifer can't speak (blog) until Ray says it okay. He said Jinx. We have to enforce the rules.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

No means no - but when did the "no" actually occur?

The first time I heard about this issue was through a blog post on salon.com, which can be found here: http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2007/10/12/roundup/index.html

Based on that account, the judge might have ruled correctly. Assuming this account is correct, and she had consensual sex with the first man (the defendant) before the others arrived, we don't have a rape yet unless PA has amended its rape statute to provide that consent obtained via fraud (he says he will pay, she agrees, then afterwards he doesn't pay) is not valid consent. States such as Michigan and California have amended the laws, but others like Massachusetts still rely on the common law, which provides that consent obtained via fraud is still valid until specifically withdrawn. So, question no. 1 - has PA amended its statutes in such a way?

Question 2 - who pulled the gun? Did the defendant, or one of the others, and was the defendant in on it beforehand? Assuming, for the sake of argument, that she had sex with the defendant before the others arrived, and after they arrived someone else pulled the gun, the defendant still didn't rape her unless he was in on the scheme to do so (or some other facts as yet unalleged tip the scales back). The guy who pulled the gun and held it on her, as well as the people who had sex with her at gunpoint, were the actual rapists. I can't tell from the column (which is the only actual source for this story that I've seen in publication so far, and is pretty heavy on invective and light on actual facts) whether the defendant was actually that guy.

Now, assuming for the sake of argument, that i) defendant had sex with the woman before the others showed up, ii) defendant obtained her consent beforehand (albeit fraudulently), iii) the woman did not make known to the defendant that she withdrew consent before he finished, iv) defendant did not participate in the rape at gunpoint, and v) the D.A. hasn't introduced evidence to tie defendant to pre-existing conspiracy to do this (the article doesn't really state clearly whether the D.A. attempted this or not - it only says that he was charged in another case), I don't think the defendant actually raped her.

Granted, he sounds like a real asshole, but has the prosecution hit the elements to prove that he (as opposed to the others) committed the specific crime charged?

Under this scenario, I can see why the judge would feel compelled to rule this way - a judge has to be a neutral arbiter of the law, i.e., she has to look at the evidence at this stage to determine whether the prosecution has sufficiently alleged a theory upon which the defendant could be adjudged to have committed a crime.

If the evidence (again, for the sake of argument) clearly demonstrates that the prosecution cannot meet this burden, isn't she a GOOD judge for not letting the state deprive someone of their liberty out of a blind lust for retribution?

Now, before the bashing begins, please let me state again that my impression of the facts of this case is colored by the first mention of it that I saw, cited above, wherein the author stated that the sex with the defendant was consensual (again, unless PA has changed its law) and that other people were involved in the sex at gunpoint. I don't know if this is true, and a slight factual difference could change my analysis completely.

But don't we have an obligation to dig a little deeper than a poorly developed, tabloid-style column with gaping factual holes that was tossed off by someone trying to sell ad space in newspapers? Doesn't the right to vote imply that we have a responsibility, before we kick her off the bench, to find out the judge's side of the story, or at least more than one or two sentences taken out of context?

Has the definition of "judicial activism" really been reduced to "she came up with an outcome that sounds unfair upon my hearing about it third-hand?"

Letter to Bar Assoc. re. Teresa Carr Deni

This is a case which should go to trial.

Philadelphia NOW has written to the Bar Association calling on them to rescind their recommendation that Teresa Carr Deni be retained as Municipal Court judge. See attached letter:

Ken Shear
Executive Director
Philadelphia Bar Association

Dear Mr. Shear:

The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women calls on you to rescind your recommendation that Teresa Carr Deni be retained as Municipal Court judge.

According to thus far uncontested reports, Judge Deni dismissed charges of rape and assault against a male defendant who lured a prostitute to an abandoned property and forced her at gunpoint to have sexual relations with him and three other men. The victim had agreed to a few hours of paid sex with the defendant and one other man. She had not consented, however, to sex with the other two, nor had she consented to unprotected sex in an abandoned building. There can be little question as to her lack of consent—those who engage in consensual sex do not have to be held at gunpoint.

Whether the defendant in this case is in fact guilty of rape may well depend upon specific facts as yet unknown. Finding such facts is the function of juries. Judge Deni’s premature dismissal of the case, if allowed to stand, will forever prevent relevant facts from being discovered, and may well result in a criminal’s remaining unpunished.

Judging from her comments as published, Judge Deni’s decision to dismiss the charges of rape and assault seems to be based on her abhorrence of prostitution and her contempt, even disgust, for those who practice it. A judge is not free, however, to ignore a crime because she disapproves of the victim. Judge Deni’s willingness to ignore the law and sound judicial practice renders her unfit for retention. We hope that you rescind your recommendation to retain her.

Yours respectfully,

Karen Bojar
President
Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women

Never mind.

Never mind.

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