Amicus Briefs by Topic
EXPERT TESTIMONY: BATTERING AND ITS EFFECTS
Evelyn Bozon-Pappa v. US, 11th Circuit, Certiorari US Supreme Court,
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)
Michelle Byrom v. Epps, 5th Circuit, Certiorari US Supreme Court,
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)
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 )
State v. Megan Goff, Supreme Court of Ohio, 2010
Brief by the Ohio Public Defender and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on behalf of battered woman convicted of murder who gave notice of battering expert and was forced to undergo adverse examination by state expert. Brief canvases law regarding compelled adverse examination and argues examination violated right not to incriminate self.
Reversed. 128 Ohio St. 3d 169, 942 N.E.2d 1075 (2010)
NCDBW Note: Court stated compelled adverse examination does not violate defendant’s rights so long as state expert examination is properly limited; defendant’s examination was not so limited.
People v. Evelyn Humphrey, Supreme Court of California, December 1995
Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant convicted of voluntary manslaughter for shooting abusive boyfriend. Brief argues that trial court erred by instructing jury it could not consider expert testimony on battering in its determination of the reasonableness of defendant’s fear when she shot decedent.
Reversed, 13 Cal. 4th 1073, 56 Cal. Rprt. 2d 142, 921 P.2d 1 (1996) (evidence of battering and its effects was relevant to reasonableness, as well as existence of defendant’s subjective belief in need to defend.)
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)
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)
US v. Kenia Munguia, US Ct. App. 9th Circuit, April 2011
Brief on behalf of battered woman defendant who bought pseudoephedrine at the direction of her abusive boyfriend. Brief argues that expert testimony on battering was relevant to defendant’s knowledge that the drug would be used to make methamphetamine and her failure to ask boyfriend probing questions.
Reversed on other grounds. 704 F.3d 596 (9th Cir. 2012)
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)
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.
People v. Barbara Sheehan, New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, 2012
Brief on behalf of battered woman who was convicted of criminal weapon possession (but acquitted of murder) for shooting her abusive husband. Brief argues that court erred in precluding defendant-specific expert testimony by expert who evaluated defendant, and that general expert testimony about dynamics of battering did not remedy the error.
Affirmed, 106 A.D.3d 1112, 965 N.Y.S.2d 633 (2013)
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 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.