Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lawyers debate 'gay panic' defense


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Prosecutors said Thursday they want to limit the use of "gay panic" defenses - where defendants claim their crimes were justified because of fear or anger over their victims' sexual orientation. "The suggestion that criminal conduct is mitigated by bias or prejudice is inappropriate," said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who organized a two-day national conference on the issue. "We can't outlaw it, but we can combat it."

Lawmakers in California and New York are considering bills to deter the common courtroom strategy of making a victim's sexual orientation central to a criminal defense. Both measures would require judges to remind jurors that bias toward the victim cannot influence their deliberations. California's bill also would instruct juries that gay panic defenses are inconsistent with state laws protecting gays, lesbians and transgenders from discrimination.

This defense seems like another effort to turn motive into an excuse.

For me the only time a motive should be seen as a possible defense is when it relates to self-defense as in cases that truly fit within battered spouse syndrome.

With DNA evidence, we may see more defense teams attempt to find fancy names for what is in essence victim blaming for crimes other than rape.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:19 AM   1 comments links to this post


At July 23, 2006 1:23 PM, Blogger Sly Civilian said...

i wrote and flamewarred to no end about the gwen arujo stuff a while back...when i was on a very unprogressive board. And the commentary was almost universal...that murder was wrong *and* she (though they never used the correct pronoun) got what she deserved.

it's freaking scary. Even if they outlaw the defense, people will still go for it...raising the issue at trial, and then hoping for jury nullification.


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