It is indeed factual that sexual harassment cases are often contentious for various reasons. While there are clearly set litigation measures that can be taken against offenders of sexual harassment, it is profound to note that the subject on sexual harassment appears to be broad and quite dynamic and as such, cannot be conclusively addressed by the law. As a matter of fact, there are myriads of court cases that have been terminated for lack of substantive evidence. Most jurists often argue that there are no clear demarcations on the laws governing sexual harassment. In other words, most of the pieces of legislation are not clear on cases related to sexual harassment. In addition, inadequate evidence has played a significant role in curtailing most of the genuine complaints presented to jurors for examination.
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In spite of the above scenarios, the ability to determine the liability of the defendant should rest within the confines of the investigative teams and not merely the jurors. According to the authors of the article (Kovera & Cass, 2002), the investigative role is supposed to be performed by the jurors because they often find it cumbersome to determine the liability of the accused. This should not be the case at all. It is unfortunate that some investigative officers may be taking advantage of the vague litigation measures by carrying out incomplete or inconsistent investigations. The underlying factor should be fair judgment to the plaintiff who has been sexually assaulted.
Moreover, it is evident that most judgment panels often give final verdicts based on certain underlying factors that are not attached to the available evidence. It is not surprising that the aspect and relevance of engaging psychological aspects have been illuminated throughout the article. Decisions made by jurists are hardly based on the justifiable claims presented for judgment. As such, it is unfortunate to note that our criminal justice systems may hardly be performing their roles as expected.
From the article, the authors articulate that factors such as the juror’s gender, the prevailing legal standards, and the expert testimony that gives a specific label to gender usually affect the nature of the decisions and outcomes given by jurors. If this is the case, it implies that proper psychological models ought to be applied by jurors before final judgments are made. Besides, the issue of stereotyping gender should not arise at all bearing in mind that jurors are expected to deliver their duties with a high level of professionalism.
One of the key aspects that have perhaps derailed proper execution of justice in regards to sexual harassment cases is the limited empirical studies that capture the investigation and ruling processes of individuals alleged to have committed sexual offenses (Taylor, 2001). In other words, there are no viable past case studies that can be relied upon to deliver fair judgment to the affected parties.
If empirical data are not in place, then it clearly demonstrates that the current laws and statutes ought to be restructured in such a way that it will be possible to create vivid differences between allegations and facts after sexual harassment case has been presented in a court of law. For instance, thorough medical examination of the plaintiffs can be instituted as part and parcel of a sexual harassment investigation. In the event that the purported victim was not physically abused, but verbally assaulted, then the current legislative framework can be amended to cater for such kind of abuse even if the evidence is scanty. Other aspects related to sexual harassment such as suffering, pain and mental anguish may be used by the plaintiff to seek compensation.
As already mentioned, physical evidence should not be a prerequisite for a ruling to be made in favor of the plaintiff. Psychologically, the aggravated mental disorders (after emotional sexual abuse) can be used by the plaintiff to present claims for damages bearing in mind that matters affecting personal health cannot be overlooked or disregarded. This explains the reason why medical examination on the psychological progress of the affected individual should be part of the investigation process.
Although the latter argument sounds to be fine and would definitely be accepted by any jurist, it is disheartening to learn that there are quite a number of adverse experiences drawn from sexual harassment that do go beyond the level of psychological examination. If such high levels of analysis are not carried out by the criminal justice system, it may not be possible to fully determine the liability of the defender. Therefore, a plaintiff may be compelled to seek very light compensation based on the claims of being humiliated or embarrassed during a sexual harassment ordeal (Conte, 2013).
From the above reaction, it can be concluded that even the most advanced criminal justice systems across the world are yet to come into terms with the current litigation measures that govern sexual harassment offenses. While there are myriads of cases that are presented before jurors on a regular basis, there is still complexity on how the liability of the accused can be determined. A complete overhaul of certain pieces of legislation should be carried out to pave the way for a psychological examination of the plaintiffs after a sexual assault claim has been presented in a court of law.
Conte, A. (2013). Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Law and Practice. New York: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. Web.
Kovera, B.M & Cass, A.S. (2002). Compelled mental health examinations, liability decisions, and damage awards in sexual harassment cases: Issues for Jury Research. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 8 (1), 96–114. Web.
Taylor, K.J. (2001). Sexual Harassment: A Non-adversarial Approach. New York: New York University Press. Web.