Several people testified in favor an against a bill (LB988) that would have Nebraska adopt affirmative consent as the standard for sexual assault during a Judiciary Committee hearing Friday in Lincoln. Interestingly, the bill seems to have brought prosecutors and defense attorneys together in opposition to the proposal, at least as written.
“It’s difficult for us as prosecutors to understand the language within this bill, let alone communicate that to jurors who need to understand what elements we have to prove … beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Molly Keane, representing the Nebraska County Attorneys Association.
And speaking for the defense…
Attorney Spike Eickholt, representing the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, said his opposition should not be interpreted as disrespectful or unsympathetic to victims. But all the scenarios he heard at the hearing are already covered in existing law. The definition in the bill of what consent means, he said, is convoluted and would only cause chaos in this area of the law. If the judge is unable to instruct the jury properly, and the jury isn’t able to understand what that instruction means, that will lead to an acquittal or a conviction that’s reversed on appeal.
The Judiciary Committee took no action on the bill immediately following the hearing.
Read more about Friday’s hearing here and here.