Why not just make it illegal for rape accused to plead not guilty?

Catriona MacLennan writes:

Lawyers continue to peddle myths on behalf of their clients.

These myths include:

* Women who consent to sex at night wake up in the morning regretting it and make false rape complaints to cover their regrets.
* A woman who has had sex once with a man has consented to sex with him forever.
* “No” said by women doesn’t mean no and “real men” will keep pressing for sex.
* False rape complaints are common.
* Women’s behaviour or clothing are a justification for rape as men are “led on” by skimpy female clothing.
* Women who are drunk or have used drugs are to blame if they are sexually violated.
* Teen rape is not rape but “adolescent experimentation”.
* Women make up false complaints of rape against famous men to try and extort money.

In promoting these myths, lawyers are disregarding their primary ethical duties. These are not to the client, but rather to the court and to the administration of justice.

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act states in section 4 that every lawyer must comply with the fundamental obligation “to uphold the rule of law and to facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand”. 

Both the act and the Conduct and Client Care Rules governing lawyers specifically state that the overriding duty of a lawyer is to the court. 

Obligations to clients are secondary.

Ms McLennan seems to be arguing that if someone is accused of rape, then their lawyer should not be allowed to offer a defence related to consent.

Why not just save time, and say you go straight to jail if accused of rape.

I mean what could possibly go wrong?

It is not that I disagree that some of the above statements are wrong (blaming rape on what someone wears) or uncommon, but that the particulars of an individual case should determine what is allowed in court.

False complaints of rape are certainly not common, but they are not unheard of. The prevalence rate is very hard to quantify, but a number of studies have concluded around 2%.

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