The Myth of Conflicting Interests: Guarding a Victim’s Right To Be Called the “Victim” During Trial

Alanna Ostby

Since 1791, the Constitution of the United States has guarded the rights of the criminal defendant. Those rights include the right to an attorney, the right to a speedy trial, the right to confront witnesses against him—and the list continues. Perhaps most notably the Constitution provides that “no person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Supreme Court has interpreted “due process” to include several freestanding rights, among them the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to an impartial tribunal, and the right to make the government prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Of course, all of these rights play a vital role in affording criminal defendants a fair trial and sustaining public confidence in the criminal justice system. Throughout these developments, however, courts lost sight of another person in dire need of her own legal protection: the victim.

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