Amicus Briefs by Topic
EXPERT TESTIMONY / LAY TESTIMONY
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. 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)
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)
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.