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NCJ Number: 139898 Find in a Library
Title: Impact of Battered Woman Syndrome Evidence on Jury Decision Processes
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:16  Issue:6  Dated:(December 1992)  Pages:597-620
Author(s): R A Schuller
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: Northwestern University Program in Law and the Social Sciences
Evanston, IL 60201
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1P 6G4, Canada
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The impact of testimony regarding the battered woman syndrome on jury decisionmaking in trials of battered women who kill their abusing spouses was investigated in two separate studies.
Abstract: The research hypothesis was that the presence of this testimony would influence verdicts by means of its mediating effect on interpretations regarding the beliefs and actions of the woman and that its impact would vary as a function of the degree to which it was linked to the woman on trial. The study participants were male and female undergraduates at the University of Western Ontario who took part for course credit. In the first experiment, the participants read a homicide trial involving a battered woman who had killed her husband. They received either no expert testimony, expert testimony presenting general research findings, or expert testimony in which the expert supplemented the general information with a specific opinion that the defendant fit the syndrome. Results revealed that the specific opinion led to interpretations more consistent with the account by the woman and to more lenient verdicts when compared to the controls. The second experiment examined the effects of the testimony on small groups of deliberating juries. Results revealed that both the general and specific expert opinions produced a moderate shift in verdicts from murder to manslaughter and that the testimony led to interpretations that were more favorable to the defense of the battered woman. Figures, tables, footnotes, and 55 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Battered woman syndrome; Jury decisionmaking
Index Term(s): Abused women; Expert witnesses; Marital murder; Ontario
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