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NJ Court Rejects “Battered Women’s Syndrome” Testimony

16
Apr
2010

by in Criminal Defense

State v. J.I.F., unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-6270-07T4 (March 4, 2010) – Conviction reversed. Trial court erred by allowing the State to present expert evidence on Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS).

“We have found no case where expert testimony respecting the characteristics of a battered woman and BWS was presented in the absence of any evidence of a coercive control pattern and its effects and an expert opinion as to whether the victim was battered….

The opinions offered by Dr. Lischick were simply not sufficient to be relevant to the facts of this case…. Here, the testimony of Dr. Lischick merely established that battered spouses may falsely recant their accusations. It did not tend to prove that this victim’s recantations were false because Dr. Lischick did not opine that the victim was a battered spouse.

Even if the victim’s statement that she feared defendant’s physical reactions to not getting his way may have been relevant to an expert opinion that she was a battered spouse, and we do not doubt that it might be, Dr. Lischick never opined the victim was a battered spouse.

And it is clear from the whole of Dr. Lischick’s testimony that this determination requires expertise beyond the ken of the average juror. Without such an opinion, the scientific fact that battered women tend to recant their accusations did not tend to prove that this victim’s recantations were false. There was no logical connection between the proffered evidence and the fact at issue — the falsity of the exculpatory statements…. As a result, Dr. Lischick’s testimony was not relevant, admissible evidence and the judge erred in admitting it.”

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