The Judicial Gateway: An Analysis of the Judge's Role in the Perpetuation of Rape Myths in Sexual Assault Jury Trials in New Zealand
In New Zealand, there has been an increasing number of conversations over the past decade about rape myths in the criminal justice system. Most research regarding rape myths in the criminal justice system either focus on rape myth acceptance by jurors or by defence counsel’s use of such myths. There is little research regarding whether the Court itself perpetuates such misconceptions. Judges influence trials by the evidence they rule admissible or inadmissible, thus, this paper first explores the definition of rape myths, sets out the most commonly used rape myths in trials and then analyses case law, focusing on what evidence the Court rules admissible/inadmissible in trials and the reasoning used. This paper also analyses these cases to determine whether a trend emerges showing courts developing an increasing awareness about the use of such myths and their response to the myths. This paper concludes there is an overall trend by the courts being more responsive in preventing the needless perpetuation of rape myths. Courts are relatively proactive at responding to rape myths used in cases which align with the ‘stranger rape’ scenario, however, are not as responsive in preventing the use of such myths in an ‘acquaintance rape’ situation.