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NCJ Number: 119343 Find in a Library
Title: Comment: Expert Testimony on the Battered Wife Syndrome -- A Question of Admissibility in the Prosecution of the Battered Wife for the Killing of Her Husband (1983) (From Representing...Battered Women Who Kill, P 162-188, 1989, Sara Lee Johann and Frank Osanka -- See NCJ-119339)
Author(s): M A Baumann
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: 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 growing recognition of the battered woman syndrome as a major social problem has encouraged further psychological studies of victims, and the legal system's responsibility is to admit expert testimony in the trial of battered women who kill their abusers.
Abstract: The defense attorney may bring in expert testimony on the battered woman syndrome to establish self-defense. An understanding of the syndrome's symptomology is essential to evaluate the admissibility of such testimony in the trial of battered women who kill. The battered wife syndrome is a psychosocial theory explaining the unique combination of psychological stresses resulting from the deliberate and repeated infliction of physical abuse. Battered women generally have low self-esteem, accept responsibility for the batterer's actions, suffer from guilt, present a passive face to the world, have severe stress reactions, have traditional values about home and family, and believe that no one can resolve the predicament except themselves. In relating these symptoms to self-defense, the defense must prove that the defendant had a bona fide belief that she was in imminent danger of death or grave bodily harm and that the only means of escape from such danger was through the use of deadly force. Existing case law dealing with the battered wife syndrome indicates that expert testimony is permissible if the expert's qualifications to testify are established. Expert testimony is necessary for jury members to understand the unique fears of a battered woman and to understand that the battered woman syndrome is the product of a recognized scientific methodology. The probative value of expert testimony on the battered woman syndrome outweighs any prejudicial impact. 144 references.
Main Term(s): Legal remedies for battered women
Index Term(s): Battered woman syndrome; Expert witnesses; Rules of evidence
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