In 1992 the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State in re M.T.S. (609 A.2d 1266 (N.J. 1992)), a case about the meaning of the term “force” in New Jersey’s sexual assault statute. As soon as the court published its opinion, scholars predicted that the decision was bound for the casebooks, and they were right. It is a great teaching case, and it is also an important early defense of the principle of affirmative consent, a way of thinking about sexual assault that has gained considerable traction in recent years. A generation of law students has now been introduced to sexual assault law through In re M.T.S.
But there’s something else about M.T.S. that’s striking and important, something that has less to do with sexual assault and much to do with the talents of law students.