National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

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victims of battering.

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Amicus Briefs by Topic

DEATH PENALTY

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 )

HOLMES, BRANDY

Brandy Holmes v. Louisiana, 5th Circuit, Certiorari US Supreme Court,
May 2009

Brief on certiorari on behalf of battered woman defendant sentenced to death for conspiring with abusive boyfriend to commit murder.  Brief argues that sentence fails to give proper consideration to mitigating significance of intimate partner violence. 

Cert. Denied.  (558 U.S. 932, 130 S. Ct. 70, 175 L. Ed. 2d 233 (2009)

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)​