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CIRCUIT SAYS RAPE CAN BE FORM OF OPPRESSION A Guatemalan woman who claimed she was raped for political reasons will be allowed to seek asylum, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The unanimous ruling in Garcia-Martinez v. Ashcroft, 04 C.D.O.S. 5119, is a victory for immigrants’ rights attorneys who argued that rape is a form of political oppression. Although it’s not the first time a court has found sexual assault to be a weapon of a tyrannical government, lawyers say the case is an important step in getting courts to recognize claims of oppression that are particular to women. U.S. government lawyers had argued that Guatemalan soldiers had raped Reina Izabel Garcia-Martinez only to satisfy their carnal desire “to be with a woman,” concluding that the woman did not deserve asylum. But Garcia-Martinez argued she was being punished for the soldiers’ perception that her brother had joined a guerrilla army. “�Persecution is stamped on every page of this record,’” wrote Ninth Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson. “Furthermore, the DOJ’s argument simply perpetuates the myth that �rape is just forceful sex by men who cannot control themselves.’ In reality, �rape is not about sex; it is about power and control.’” Judge A. Wallace Tashima and Senior Judge David Thompson joined in the decision. In 1993, three soldiers raped Garcia-Martinez in her home, beat her family members, tied up her father in the backyard, and forced her mother to cook the soldiers a meal while they assaulted the then 19-year-old, according to her attorneys. Garcia-Martinez eventually entered the United States illegally, settling in Richmond. She married and had two children. The United States tried to have her deported but she requested asylum. Immigration Judge Mimi Yam turned her down, a decision the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed in a one-sentence opinion. — Jeff Chorney N.Y. JUDGE IN TROUBLE ACCEPTS REASSIGNMENT NEW YORK — A Queens, N.Y., judge who caused an uproar last week when she helped a suspect avoid arrest in her courtroom was transferred from criminal court to civil court Monday pending an investigation by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. As word of the transfer spread, the judge’s critics, including the mayor’s office, filed complaints to the conduct commission and continued to press for her removal from the bench. The Office of Court Administration announced Monday that the judge, Supreme Court Justice Laura Blackburne, had agreed to an immediate transfer to take the spotlight off the drug court over which she had presided. Investigations by the Commission on Judicial Conduct are not public, but it seemed certain Monday that the office would immediately investigate the judge’s actions. During a routine hearing last week for a defendant enrolled in a drug treatment program, Justice Blackburne expressed anger over the presence of a police detective in her courtroom. The judge said the detective “came to this court under the ruse of wanting to ask questions” when he in fact wanted to arrest the defendant, Derek Sterling, in connection with a robbery. The judge said she resented the officer’s conduct and asked a court officer to escort Sterling out a side door to avoid the detective. — New York Law Journal

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