Perhaps if you took the jury out of the picture, both prosecution and defense would have less incentive to focus on the character of the accused and the accuser and focus more on the facts of the matter instead.
The issue is that rape trials can frequently come down to the character of the people involved.
Take one of the "I've started so I'll finish" style rape trials; the two people consensually end up in bed together. Part way through one of the parties say they said "stop", the other party says they never did. The only witness evidence is that they were kissing in public and then went to a bedroom together... neither party disputes that. The physical evidence only shows that they had sex... neither party disputes that. To decide whether it was a rape or not comes down pretty much entirely to how those who decide... be it jury or judge... view the character of the two people involved.
On the original topic, somewhat unfortunately the Washington Supreme Court website seems to have decided that the last day or so would be the perfect time to crash which makes discussing the case somewhat difficult; it's hard to discuss a judgement when you can't actually read a judgement only a few interpretations of it. That said from what little I've read I agree with the judgement... although I obviously reserve my right to change that once I read the case and reasoning itself.
This isn't a situation like raising a self-defence claim when accused of murder. In that case the prosecution has to prove murder beyond reasonable doubt (generally the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human) and then the defence may raise self-defence as a perfect defence to the crime. The reasoning behind the self-defence defence is that legally a murder did take place but it was justifiable according to the law; the requirements for murder are fulfilled but the requirements for self-defence are so fulfilled. In rape trials consent is part of the crime itself... for something to be a rape there must be a lack of consent. Arguing that the other party consented isn't raising a seperate defence that negates the original crime in the way self-defence is with regards to murder... it's arguing that there wasn't a rape to being with. A central tenant of jurisprudence is that people are innocent until proven guilty and thus it falls on the prosecution to prove it... a change to make the defendant prove their innocence changes that to guilty until proven innocent. If the logic was extended to all rape cases then it would mean that every
sexual act is by default rape and everyone who engages in sex is by default a rapist... after all, if it is up to the participants to prove
that the other party consented then until they have done so their sexual activity was rape.
That said this seemingly doesn't imply to all rapes... although this actually makes me agree with the judgement more. The reports tend to use the term "forcible rape" to describe the circumstances although whether this applies to RCW 9A.44.040 (Rape in the First Degree)
or RCW 9A.44.050 (Rape in the Second Degree)
is slightly unclear. Considering the wording it looks like it's part of a discussion on "Forcible compulsion", defined as "physical force which overcomes resistance, or a threat, express or implied, that places a person in fear of death or physical injury to herself or himself or another person, or in fear that she or he or another person will be kidnapped"
. So, in essence we're talking about rapes where the defendant is accused of forcing the other part of have sex either physically or with threats of physical violence/kidnapping.
Self-evidently one cannot have both forcible compulsion and
consent, consent being defined as (emphasis mine)"at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact there are actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact
". If one used threats or physical violence to make another "consent" then that consent is not freely given; there are no situations in which there can both be forcible compulsion and genuine consent in the same act. Thus if a defendant proves consent was there they are also disproving forcible compulsion... the two are incompatible. As proving consent disproves forcible compulsion making the defendant prove consent is forcing them to prove they didn't commit a crime... as above that goes against the basic principles of jurisprudence and innocent until proven guilty.