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Former San Diego prosecutor Rowland's account of her attempts to strengthen the people's case against alleged rapists works much better as courtroom drama than as thematic study. Rowland credits her gender for an added measure of sensitivity at victim interviews, leading to more triable cases. She goes on to chronicle her efforts to bolster victim credibility (a perennial problem in rape cases) by introducing expert witnesses: first, to testify on reasonable resistance (juries have often wondered, before now, why victims didn't fight back); then, when the appellate court rejected this approach (though not always Rowland's hard-won convictions), to testify on rape trauma syndrome, a pattern of behavior exhibited by rape victims that might otherwise be misread by a jury. Between trials, Rowland makes an awkward stab at explaining the rules of evidence with which she had to contend, and to fit her achievements into the larger perspectives of the criminal justice system's response to women and to the non-judicial needs of rape victims. Threaded through is Rowland's own story--about coming of age as a female criminal-justice professional: ""while I hoped these victories would convince my colleagues of my sincerity, of my dedication to the job, to them each success evidenced a growing power struggle between us for control of the direction the District Attorney would take in handling this whole area of crime."" Ultimately she was transferred to an outlying suburb, where there was no use for her special skills in rape and domestic violence cases; and she left the D.A.'s office. Talking about herself or the issues, Rowland is less convincing than when the lengthy excerpts from victim/lawyer conferences, and the trial transcripts, speak for her.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday