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36 Wayne L. Rev. 1619 (1989-1990)
Links between the Battered Woman Syndrome and the Battered Child Syndrome: An Argument for Consistent Standards in the Admissibility of Expert Testimony in Family Abuse Cases

handle is hein.journals/waynlr36 and id is 1629 raw text is: LINKS BETWEEN THE BATTERED WOMAN
SYNDROME AND THE BATTERED CHILD
SYNDROME: AN ARGUMENT FOR
CONSISTENT STANDARDS IN THE
ADMISSIBILITY OF EXPERT TESTIMONY IN
FAMILY ABUSE CASES
I. INTRODUCTION
As violence within the traditional family structure becomes
more visible'-child abuse, parent/sibling abuse, elder abuse, and
spouse abuse-so too have the number of experts entering the
courtroom   to explain the various abuse syndromes.2 Although
courts readily accept expert testimony in cases involving personal
injuries, medical malpractice claims, and insanity pleas,3 they are
less receptive to testimony concerning the more private realm
of intrafamily relationships.4 The courts' reluctance to permit this
1. Extensive media coverage of the New York trial of lawyer Joel Steinburg
recently brought both the issue of child abuse and woman battering to the public
attention; recent television commercials and programs have also brought these
issues into the homes of many families. See, e.g., A Cry for Help (television
broadcast, October 1989) (dealing with the issue of battered women); The Burning
Bed (NBC television broadcast, October 1984) (also dealing with the issue of
battered women).
2. Although originally restricted to medical diagnosis, the use of the term
syndrome has now surfaced in the courtroom to describe a set of characteristics
identifying a particular condition. For example, the judiciary is now concerned
with the rape trauma syndrome, battered spouse syndrome, child abuse syndrome,
parent abuse syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, Vietnam veterans' syndrome,
XYZ chromosome syndrome, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. For an over-
view of the admissibility of expert testimony in these areas see, McCord, Syn-
dromes, Profiles and Other Mental Exotica: A New Approach to the Admissibility
of Nontraditional Psychological Evidence in Criminal Cases, 66 OR. L. REv. 19
(1987). This Note focuses primarily on the battered woman syndrome and the
battered child syndrome.
3. In some instances, the courts require such expert testimony. See, e.g.,
Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985) (state's failure to provide psychiatrist
during trial and sentencing violates due process); see also People v. Bailey, 175
Mich. 743, 438 N.W.2d 344 (1989) (mock mental status examination of defendant
while on the witness stand by psychiatric expert permissible); Mxcr. Comp. LAWS
ANN. § 768.20(a) (West Supp. 1989) (defendant entitled to independent psycho-
logical evaluation on the issue of insanity at the state's expense).
4. See infra notes 6 & 92-104 and accompanying text.

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