You can read this entire chapter in its original single-page scroll on the comic’s old Tumblr site here.
What about battered wife syndrome?
That’s a lawyer term, not a medical one. It can refer to other things (such as why abused partners continue to remain in dangerous relationships). In the context of defenses, it itself is not a defense, but rather a context in which one of the standard defenses might apply.
So in self-defense, a woman who is in an abusive relationship, and knows that whenever her husband starts cursing he’s about to hurt her severely, and the last time he started cursing she shot him preemptively, then the battered-woman context could help satisfy the elements of self-defense. But as the preceding pages illustrate, absent an immediate threat, such claims usually fail.
It can also be used to provide context for other defenses like diminished capacity/temporary insanity, duress, etc. But it’s only context, not a separate defense unto itself.
I’m curious about your opinion on the Francine Hughes case. Clearly her husband was sound asleep and she burned him to death but was acquitted. I’ll admit I was always bothered by the reasoning there. Do you think temporary insanity was reasonable in such a case?
She wasn’t acquitted on self-defense grounds, but was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Just like I said in my previous comment, the “battered woman” argument wasn’t enough to satisfy the elements of self-defense, but it did provide context for temporary insanity — a finding that she’d been provoked so extremely that it overcame her reason, she’d acted in the heat of passion, and anybody in her shoes would have been just as incapable of acting rationally.
Her lawyer had made self-defense argument, of course, but even in her extreme situation it just wasn’t there. Hours had passed since the last beating, plus the guy was passed out in an alcoholic stupor and posed no present danger to anyone.
So he wisely offered the alternative theory that, after all those years of abuse, she just snapped. It was easier for the jury to say that she was still out of her wits after those hours had passed — though so much calculated planning went into what she did that it was still a very chancy argument.
But the heart of a temporary insanity dense is “you can’t blame her.” And that was really what the jury was probably saying.
I think you might be conflating “right” with “legal” when you say “did the right thing”.
“Right” in the eyes of the law. Ideally, they’d be the same thing.
Would either this or necessity
Example #1, from Anonymous your tumblr:
Say it is New Years Eve and the police roll up on the parking lot of a bar and find a sober Greg wrestling with his drunk friend Steve for Steve’s car keys. Is prosecutorial discretion the only thing that protects Greg from prosecution for assault with intent to rob?
Suppose Cindy is married to Mark, the abusive father of their son Jon. Jon, over-hears them drunkenly arguing and hears his father shout that he’s going to kill her. Jon steals the steals his father’s gun and drops it off at one of those gun-collection things that the police sometimes run. Is this affected if Mark did not legally own the firearm in the first place?
Sorry, that should be “Would either self defense or necessity be a valid defense of the following examples of committing a crime to prevent a crime?”
In example 1, the police would probably thank Greg for keeping Steve from driving, and then take Steve to the drunk tank.
In 2, I have a feeling it might not matter, cause those gun collection drives occur in states and cities that are aggressively control and reduce the numbers of guns. It’d probably play out “Thanks Jon, here’s the reward, and take a candy bar.”