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Title: State v. Curley: Modernizing Battered Woman's Syndrome in Louisiana
Authors: Carnes, Brittany A.
Keywords: battered woman's syndrome
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Citation: 65 Loy. L. Rev. 223
Abstract: The admissibility of “battered woman’s syndrome” (BWS) evidence and related expert testimony has been the subject of nationwide debate, particularly with respect to insanity defenses. This debate has focused mainly on the word “syndrome,” which seems to suggest that a defendant relying on the defense in any given criminal case is suffering from an actual, discernable mental illness. The admissibility of such evidence was at the heart of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s opinion in State v. Curley. Prior to this decision, Louisiana courts treated the admissibility of BWS evidence in a nonuniform manner, where some courts admitted it absent an insanity plea, while other courts expressly forbade it. In Curley, the court held, once and for all, that pursuant to Louisiana Code of Evidence article 404(A), BWS evidence and related expert testimony are permissible in cases in which the defendant pleads insanity or self-defense, not just the former. The defendant in Curley was ultimately awarded a new trial at which evidence of past abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, the murder victim, was allowed to come in. Curley is significant because it clarified the important role of BWS evidence in trials of abused women who are accused of committing violent crimes against their abusers.
ISSN: 0192-9720
Appears in Collections:Law Review

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