Reforming the Criminal Law: University of Baltimore School of Law Group Goes to Annapolis
University of Baltimore Law Forum, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2003
25 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2008
Date Written: 2003
Recognition of my students' power to reform the law was brought home to several of my Evidence students in late fall 2001. In the midst of a section of the course focusing on character evidence in general, we whitewater rafted at a dizzying speed through the federal rape shield law, Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 412, and its Maryland state counterpart. I mentioned a recent decision of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland that, in my mind, pointed out the need to amend the Maryland statute, and asked that interested students contact me after the end of the semester if they wanted to pursue the challenge.
This article will first provide some background regarding rape shield laws in general and the Maryland statute. It then will chronicle my students' and my successful efforts over the 2002 and 2003 legislative sessions to reform Maryland criminal and evidence law by legislatively overruling two Maryland appellate cases: Churchfield v. State, which held that the state rape shield law did not protect victims when the defendant was being tried for sexual child abuse, and Cooksey v. State, which held that Maryland recognizes no crime of continuing sexual offense against a child other than the rather narrowly applicable crime of child abuse.
Keywords: criminal law, rape shield, Maryland, reform, child abuse, evidence
JEL Classification: K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation