Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Liberta case brief

People v. Liberta case brief summary
474 N.E.2d 567 (1984)

Defendant appealed a decision from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Fourth Judicial Department (New York) affirming his conviction for rape and sodomy.

Defendant, while living separate from his wife and after a temporary order of protection had been issued to his wife, forced her to have intercourse and perform fellatio on him. He appealed his convictions of rape under N.Y. Penal Law § 130.35 and sodomy under N.Y. Penal Law § 130.50 on the basis of his being married to his wife at the time and on equal protection grounds.


  • The court affirmed, striking down the marital exemptions to the rape and sodomy statutes as having no rational basis. 
  • The court determined that the equal protection argument required the court to either eliminate the statutes or to make the statutes gender neutral. 
  • The court determined that making the statutes gender neutral would have addressed the equal protection concerns and would have been a better result than declaring the statutes a nullity because of the effect such a declaration would have had on public safety.

Defendant's convictions for rape and sodomy were affirmed. The court struck down the marital exemptions for these crimes and also made the rape statute gender neutral by making it effective against women as well as men.

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