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March 30, 2006

Legal Analyst to Speak About Sexual Assault Cases

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Legal analyst Wendy Murphy will speak about the need to examine issues of diversity and privilege in sexual assault cases during a lecture “Whose Liberty?” at 7 p.m., Monday, April 24, in John M. Greene Hall. The talk is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

Murphy will discuss failed rape law reform efforts, and offer ideas about ways to make the justice system a fairer venue for redress of gender-specific harm in society. Murphy argues that “rape-shield” laws, designed to prohibit a victim’s prior sexual history as evidence in rape trials, are flawed. Murphy will also address issues of race and gender tension within the criminal justice system.

Murphy is a trial attorney and former state prosecutor specializing in the representation of women, children and victims of violence. She has initiated numerous test cases to change the law in the areas of privacy rights, sexual violence, reproductive rights and traumatic memory.

An adjunct professor at the New England School of Law in Boston, Murphy teaches a seminar on sexual violence and leads two projects in conjunction with the schools Center on Law and Social Responsibility. The Sexual Violence Legal News project is an Internet-based alert service that distributes legal cases related to sexual- and gender-based violence, and the Judicial Language project is a social-science-based critique of language used in court decisions related to sexual- and gender-based violence.

Currently serving on the Massachusetts Governor's Commission against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Murphy consults with law enforcement, prosecutors, victims' and women's organizations throughout the nation on matters of litigation and legal policy. She founded and directs the Victim Advocacy & Research Group, a volunteer legal advocacy organization that has provided free legal services since 1992.

In addition, Murphy is frequently sought out by the media to analyze cases. She is employed as a legal analyst for CBS News and appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, Court TV and NPR.  She is writing her first book for Viking/Sentinel on criminal justice reform.

The event is sponsored by the Smith Student Affairs Office and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Everywoman’s Center.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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