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NCJ Number: 119340 Find in a Library
Title: Describing and Changing: Women's Self-Defense Work and the Problem of Expert Testimony on Battering (1986 (From Representing...Battered Women Who Kill, P 51-98, 1989, Sara Lee Johann and Frank Osanka -- See NCJ-119339)
Author(s): E M Schneider
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 48
Sponsoring Agency: Brooklyn Law School
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Charles C. Thomas
Springfield, IL 62704
Sale Source: Charles C. Thomas
2600 South First Street
Springfield, IL 62704
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The primary legal issue relating to sex bias in the law of self-defense is the admissibility of expert testimony on the battered woman syndrome.
Abstract: Historically, views of women as being weak or unreasonable, sex bias in the law of self-defense, and myths and misconceptions concerning battered women have operated to prevent these women from justifying acts of homicide or assault against batterers as reasonable self-defense. Judicial perceptions of battered women have problematic consequences for their defense, the critical problem in representing battered women who kill and assert self-defense being how to explain their actions as reasonable. The admissibility of expert testimony depends on a judicial finding that testimony is relevant to the issue at hand, either self-defense or some other issue. Most appellate courts, in ruling on a trial court's exclusion of expert testimony, have determined that such testimony on the battered woman syndrome is relevant to a claim of self-defense. Expert testimony on the syndrome has commonly been understood by lawyers and judges as the primary way to solve the problem of sex bias in the trial process for battered women. A case is described in which the New Jersey Supreme Court held that expert testimony concerning the battered woman syndrome is admissible and relevant under the State's standard of self-defense. Dilemmas posed by expert testimony for feminist legal theory are examined, along with the theme of victimization in the women's movement. 192 references.
Main Term(s): Legal remedies for battered women
Index Term(s): Rules of evidence; Self defense
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS. Earlier versions of article presented at the Fourteenth and Fifteenth National Conferences on Women and the Law, 1984 and 1985; the Feminist/Critical Legal Studies Conference, 1985; and a Clara Brett Marshall lecture at the University of Toronto Law School, 1985
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