Battered-woman syndrome dubious as a defence

A new study suggests lawyers should drop the “battered woman” terminology when facing a jury and focus instead on the woman’s predicament and lack of alternatives, reported the Vancouver Sun April 13. The problem in such cases apparently is jurors carry around a host of misconceptions about battered women and the world in which they live. The new study published in the April issue of the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science – titled “Rethinking Battered Woman Syndrome Evidence” – scrutinized how 172 mock jurors dealt with evidence in a murder trial involving a woman who had killed her abuser. During the study, the participants were divided into three jury groups – one group received no expert testimony, the second received expert testimony based on battered woman syndrome and the third heard specialists who described the woman’s situation and experiences without using battered woman terminology. The authors – Elisabeth Wells, of Guelph University, along with York University psychology Professor Regina Schuller, master’s student Sara Rzepa (B.Sc.’00) and doctoral student Marc Klippenstine (MA ’01) – say the findings suggest defence lawyers must be careful about introducing such evidence.

Top court to hear claim for private health care

The power of politicians to dictate health policy will be challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada this spring in a pair of cases that seek to elevate health care – both public and private – to a constitutional right, reported the Edmonton Journal April 13. The appeals, which effectively put Canada’s publicly funded medicare system on trial, will see the federal government arguing both for and against universality. “The litigants in these cases are seeking the same thing, they’re seeking judicial review of health-care policy,” said Jamie Cameron, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Teacher’s interest in black history piqued by York

Paul Cornfield is part of a team researching early black settlement in Grey and Bruce counties for a new curriculum package he hopes to have available to Bluewater teachers by September, 2005, reported the Owen Sound Sun Times April 13. The new black history will then be tied to a long list of curriculum goals recently pulled from provincial curriculum documents by two York University students. Research into the Underground Railroad in St. Vincent Township piqued his interest in black history, further fueled after attending a black history conference at York University last year, said the Sun Times.

On air

  • Bruce Ryder, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, discussed filling a Supreme Court vacancy with aboriginal David Nahwegahbow, on a news item aired on CBC Newsworld’s “Newsworld Today” and CBC TV’s “Canada Now” April 12.