A federal suit challenging a Nebraska judge's ban on the use of the words "rape," "sexual assault," ""sexual assault nurse examiner" and "sexual assault kit" in his courtroom has been thrown out.
Filed by Tory Bowen, the alleged victim of a rape, the suit argued that judge's language ban during the first-degree sexual assault trial of Pamir Safi amounted to a violation of her free speech rights and prevented an accurate description of the alleged crime. For good measure, the judge also mandated that the jury not be told that the language restrictions had been put in place.
But Bowen failed to prove her suit wasn't frivolous, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf found, according to the Omaha World Herald. While he declared himself sympathetic to Bowen's position -- "for the life of me, I do not understand why a judge would tell an alleged rape victim that she cannot say she was 'raped' when she testifies in a trial about rape" -- he wrote in a footnote to the opinion, he lacked the authority to "stick his nose" in the state court's business.
According to the Associated Press account, Kopf had previously raised concerns that the suit was simply an effort to get the state judge, Jeffre Cheuvront, to recuse himself from the case. (The original charges against Safi resulted in a hung jury, and after the Cheuvront declared a mistrial during jury selection in round two, prosecutors announced they intended to seek a third trial).
Apparently Kopf thought the decision was the sort that could be best taken with a dose of humor. In the introduction to his decision, he quoted a Yogi Berra malapropism: "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."