National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

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victims of battering.

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Amicus Briefs

Amicus Briefs by NCDBW as LEAD AMICUS

BOZON-PAPPA, EVELYN: 

Evelyn Bozon-Pappa v. US, 11th Circuit, Certiorari US Supreme Court, March 2000

Brief for certiorari on behalf of battered woman defendant convicted of participating with abusive boyfriend in federal drug conspiracy. Brief reviews history of admission of expert testimony on battering, and argues that battering expert was wrongfully excluded as such testimony was needed for proper evaluation of prosecution evidence of defendant’s purported “knowing and intentional” conduct and defense evidence of history of abuse by co-defendant. 

Cert. Denied.  529 U.S. 1061, 120 S. Ct. 1572, 146 L. Ed. 2d 474 (2000)

 

BYROM, MICHELLE:

Michelle Byrom v. Epps, 5th Circuit, Certiorari US Supreme Court, September 2013

Brief on certiorari on behalf of battered woman sentenced to death for arranging murder of her abusive husband. Brief argues that counsel’s failure at sentencing phase to present witnesses who would have corroborated the history of abuse, and expert testimony on battering (rather than only the expert’s report) prejudiced defendant, especially since the prosecutor exploited the lack of such evidence in arguing for death sentence.  

Cert. Denied.  34 S. Ct. 1275, 188 L. Ed. 2d 311, 82 U.S.L.W. 3492 (2014)

COPELAND, FAYE:

Faye Copeland (Copeland v. Washington) – US District Ct., W.D. Missouri, January 1999

Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant sentenced to death for conspiring with abusive husband to commit murder. Brief argues that battering expert was improperly precluded and counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence of battering which was relevant to defendant’s intent to kill. 

Order granting petition in part, and vacating death sentence affirmed.  232 F.2d 969 (8th Cir. 2000 )

DIXON, KESHIA CHERIE ASHFORD:

Dixon v. US, 5th Circuit, Certiorari, US Supreme Court, February 2006

Petition for Writ of Certiorari.  Brief on certiorari on behalf of battered woman convicted of purchasing firearms for abusive boyfriend argues in favor of established federal practice that places burden of persuasion on government when defendant satisfies burden of production on a duress defense. 

Affirmed.  548 U.S. 1 (2006)

HELMEDACH, JENNIFER:

State v. Jennifer Helmedach, Supreme Court of Connecticut, 2009

Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant convicted of participating with abusive boyfriend in robbery and murder of third party. Brief argues that jury was permitted to erroneously conclude that remaining in abusive relationship was proof that she "recklessly placed [herself] in the situation" thereby barring her duress defense. 

Affirmed.  25 Conn. App. 125 (2010); State v. Helmedach, 306 Conn. 61, 48 A.3d 664 (2012)

LEWIS, JENNIFER:

State v. Jennifer Lewis, Supreme Court of Georgia, 1995

Brief on behalf of battered woman convicted of murder for shooting abusive husband. Brief argues that counsel was ineffective and defendant was severely prejudiced by counsel’s failure to present corroborative lay evidence and that battering expert was necessary to assess self-defense elements and rebut misconceptions about battered women. 

Affirmed.  265 Ga. 451, 457 S.E.2d 173 (1995)

MARKMAN, BETH:

Commonwealth v. Beth Markman, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 2003

Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant sentenced to death for participating with abusive boyfriend in murder of third person.  Brief argues that court erroneously barred duress instruction on flawed reasoning that defendant “recklessly placed” herself in the situation, and wrongfully precluded battering expert.  Brief analyzes relevance of battering evidence to duress and refutes court’s misconceptions.

Reversed on other grounds.  591 Pa. 249, 916 A.2d 586 (2007)

NCDBW note:  Court finds duress instruction should have been given and this holding is not dicta. (591 Pa. at 283-290, 916 A.2d at 605-612)

OWENS, GAILE:

Gaile Owens v. Steele, 6th Circuit, Certiorari US Supreme Court, August 2009

Brief on certiorari on behalf of battered woman sentenced to death for alleged “murder for hire” of abusive husband.  Brief argues court erred by finding that defendant needed to “prove” the abuse beyond her assertions, yet also finding that corroborative evidence withheld by the prosecution was not “material.”

Cert. Denied.  558 U.S. 879, 130 S. Ct. 281, 175 L. Ed.2d 135 (2009)

REAY, NETTIE:

People v. Nettie Reay, Supreme Court of California, January 2002

Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant coerced by abusive boyfriend to participate in killing of third person.  Brief argues that jury should have been instructed on defense of duress, and analyzes admissibility and relevance of battering evidence to battered women’s duress claims. 

Affirmed.  Unpublished decision, 2003 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7957, 2003 WL 21983858 (2003.)

NCDBW note:  Affirmed based on retroactive application of new rule barring duress as defense to murder.

SMITH, VERNITA:

State v. Vernita Smith, Supreme Court of Georgia, March 1997

Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant convicted of manslaughter for shooting abusive husband.  Brief argues that defendant should have received specific jury instructions explaining how evidence of battering relates to self-defense. 

Reversed.  268 Ga. 196, 486 S.E.2d 819 (1997)

NCDBW Note:  Defendant entitled to specific jury instruction explaining how experiences as battered person affected state of mind.

STEWART, RHONDA:

State v. Rhonda Stewart, Supreme Court WV, 2011

Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant convicted of murder for shooting abusive husband when she intended to shoot herself.  Brief reviews admissibility of battering evidence for purposes other than self-defense, explains relevance for assessing state of mind elements, and demonstrates how defendant was prejudiced. 

Reversal of conviction affirmed.  State v. Stewart, 228 W. Va. 406, 719 S.E.2d 876 (2011)

NCDBW note:  Excluded eyewitnesses to abuse and battering expert could have cast doubt on premeditation and malice elements of murder.

WEIAND, KATHLEEN:

Weiand v. Florida, Supreme Court of Florida, January 1997

Brief on behalf of battered woman who killed her husband as he choked and assaulted her.  Brief argues that trial court erred by excluding two eyewitnesses to abuse on reasoning that battering expert testified, and that policy of protecting domestic violence victims requires that cohabitants not have duty to retreat from own home before using deadly force.  

Certified question answered, 732 So. 2d 1044 (1999) \

NCDBW note:  Ruling was that the battering expert was no substitute for eyewitnesses to abuse; cohabitants do not have duty to retreat from home before resorting to deadly force.