Custom Search

Saturday, November 28, 2009

[NY] Barbara Sheehan can only dream of a fair trial after Judge Cooperman's ruling against battered woman's syndrome defense experts


The Queens woman who said she killed her ex-cop husband after years of abuse will not be able to use battered woman’s syndrome as a defense... [Her] lawyer - who has sparred repeatedly with [Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur] Cooperman for months and urged the judge to let someone else preside over the trial - objected. "If you want to do something to me, here I am do it to me," [Michael] Dowd said. "But don't take it out on this woman who's been abused half her life"...


PREVIOUS ENTRIES:

“This is the most awful, unprecedented decision I’ve ever read,” [Barbara Sheehan's Attorney Michael] Dowd said outside court. “We have to present a defense without any context of a battered woman’s life.”

You really have to GO TO this following blog interview to get it's content:

BARBARA SHEEHAN SPEAKS
theforumnewsgroup.com
By Patricia Adams
November 25, 2009

[Excerpts] This week The Forum brings you an exclusive interview with Barbara Sheehan, who is charged in the shooting death of her husband, retired NYPD Sgt. Raymond Sheehan. Sheehan and her attorney, Michael Dowd, speak candidly about his murder, and how a judge’s recent decision could destroy their defense strategy. The mother of two has been free on $1 million bail since the February 2008 shooting at the family’s Howard Beach home and is expected to stand trial in early 2010. For the first time the defense speaks about questionable behavior by attorneys for the prosecution and discusses how the judge’s disapproval of Dowd’s tactics may affect the case... a recent decision by the judge in the case has thrust the story back into the news. “We’re in trouble.” That is how defense attorney Michael Dowd describes what he terms the devastating consequences of the decision handed down by Justice Arthur Cooperman which will prohibit the testimony of expert witnesses in establishing the post traumatic stress disorder and battered woman’s syndrome defense in the murder trial of his client, Barbara Sheehan... Now Dowd says he is faced with the monumental task of coming up with a defense that will offer his client what he says is everyone’s entitlement. A fair trial. At the heart of the objections from the defense team is the fact that the prosecution has all the benefit of the expert testimony from the notes that were provided them however, the same experts will not have the opportunity to explain the complex and dark details of Battered Woman’s Syndrome to a jury of Sheehan’s peers... "The average person could not possibly know the level of sickness that is associated with the abusers and those they batter. Because of this and because the criminal process does not allow for an appeal before a guilty verdict is rendered by a jury, Barbara could very well end up in jail while waiting for an appeal. She simply doesn’t belong there.” In next week’s edition we will explore the circumstances leading up to the murder, including years of documented battering Sheehan endured, as well as the events of the February 2008 morning when she shot her husband... [Full article here]

Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman
 I don't know what happened in the Sheehan house, but even the people at her church observed her battered face before the killing. I cannot imagine living that way... being beat up at home and then trying to socialize at church. I commend the New York reporters for following this case and reporting their observations of an egotistical angry judge who has lost his compass. I pray for Barbara that something or someone can intervene and give her at least a fair trial. That's all she's asking for and it's what everyone of us have a right to. I don't know what I'd do if a man treated me and my family that way over years - or if it would take me years to hit my breaking point. I don't know if I would see another way out or not. Hopefully I would, but each situation is different. When I ended up in a women's shelter I could barely say my name and I couldn't remember my own address. People don't know who haven't been there what it's like. There NEEDS to be an expert in court who does, and who can share with the jury a glimpse into the world of a person who is living not day by day, but minute to minute. A person who can't say their own name without sobbing. How could the average juror know?


I AM NOT THE PERSON I WAS, CRUSHED TO THE CORE OF MY SOUL. THERE ARE NO WINDOWS OR FLOORS THERE. IT'S A FALLING. JUMPING AT EVERY SOUND AND BLOWING LEAF. IT IS A LIMPNESS AND A FOG, A SMALLNESS OF BEING WHERE NOTHING YOU SAY IS RIGHT, NOTHING YOU DO IS GOOD, AND YOU ARE NEVER EVER UNAFRAID OF THE NEXT MOOD OR WAVE. MAYBE JUDGE COOPERMAN  DOESN'T LIKE THE SMELL OF THIS CASE BUT IT IS NOT UP TO HIS HIS NOSE TO DECIDE JUSTICE. MAYBE IT IS SOMETHING MORE PERSONALLY THREATENING TO HIS WAY OF LIFE. WHO CAN KNOW? BUT WE DO KNOW THAT THERE IS ENOUGH TO SHOW THAT BARBARA SHEEHAN LIVED IN A HELL WE WOULDN'T WISH ON OUR ENEMIES AND FEW CAN IMAGINE. LET HER HAVE A FAIR TRIAL, EVEN IF SHE IS FOUND GUILTY - LET IT BE A FAIR DECISION.

FROM THE AMERICAN JUDGES ASSOCIATION:

... Symptoms:  BWS [Battered Woman's Syndrome] is a psychological reaction that can be expected to occur in normal people who are exposed to repeated trauma, such as family violence. It includes at least three groups of symptoms that assist the mind and body in preparing to defend against threats. Psychologists call it the "fight or flight" response.

The "Fight" Response Mode: In the "fight" mode, the body and mind prepare to deal with danger by becoming hypervigilant to cues of potential violence, resulting in an exaggerated startle response. The automatic nervous system becomes operational and the individual becomes more focused on the single task of self defense. This impairs concentration and causes physiological responses usually associated with high anxiety. In serious cases, fearfulness and panic disorders are present and phobic disorders may also result. Irritability and crying are typical symptoms of this stage.

The "Flight" Response Mode: The "flight" response mode often alternates with the fight pattern. Most individuals would run away from danger if they could do so safely. When physical escape is actually or perceived as impossible, then mental escape occurs. This is the avoidance or emotional numbing stage where denial, minimization, rationalization and disassociation are subconsciously used as ways to psychologically escape from the threat or presence of violence.

Cognitive Ability and Memory Loss: The third major impact of BWS is to the cognitive and memory areas. Here, the victim begins to have intrusive memories of the abuse or may actually develop psychogenic amnesia and not always remember important details or events. The victim may have trouble following his or her thoughts in a logical way, being distracted by intrusive memories that may be flashbacks to previous battering incidents. The victim may disassociate himself or herself when faced with painful events, memories, reoccurring nightmares or other associations not readily apparent to the observer...


Articles from earlier this month:

JUDGE BLASTS DEFENSE LAWYER'S 'DELIBERATE STRATEGY OF DELAY' IN MURDER CASE
New York Daily News
BY Thomas Zambito
Wednesday, November 11th 2009, 4:00 AM
[Excerpts] An irate judge slapped a lawyer with $2,000 in fines and effectively derailed his battered-wife defense of a woman accused of killing her ex-cop husband last year. Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman said lawyer Michael Dowd thwarted efforts to have a prosecution psychologist interview defendant Barbara Sheehan. He cited "a deliberate strategy of delay" and said Dowd's outbursts during a July 2009 interview caused her to have "an emotional breakdown." Sheehan, 48, is accused of pumping 11 bullets into the back of her husband, former NYPD Sgt. Raymond Sheehan, while he shaved in their Howard Beach home on Feb. 18, 2008. Dowd had planned to use expert witnesses to argue that Sheehan was a battered wife, but the judge blocked psychiatric testimony yesterday - gutting his strategy. The lawyer - who has sparred repeatedly with Cooperman for months and urged the judge to let someone else preside over the trial - objected. "If you want to do something to me, here I am do it to me," Dowd said. "But don't take it out on this woman who's been abused half her life." [LINK]

BLACK WIDOW SHRINK RAP
New York Post
By WILLIAM J. GORTA
November 11, 2009
[Excerpts] The Queens mom who killed her ex-cop hubby after years of alleged abuse isn't allowed to use battered woman's syndrome as a defense -- because she missed an appointment with a prosecution shrink. Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman angrily denied Barbara Sheehan and her lawyer, Michael Dowd, the right to use the crucial strategy because he said the pair blew off the latest in a series of court-ordered exams by a prosecution expert on the issue. "This is the most awful, unprecedented decision I've ever read," Dowd said outside court. "We have to present a defense without any context of a battered woman's life." Dowd said prosecutors now have Sheehan's entire account of the shooting, based on the exams and battery of psychological tests that she had already taken. [LINK]

ACCUSED KILLER CAN NOT USE BATTERED WIFE SYNDROME DEFENSE: JUDGE [sic]
New York Post
By WILLIAM J. GORTA
November 10, 2009
[Excerpts] The Queens woman who said she killed her ex-cop husband after years of abuse will not be able to use battered woman’s syndrome as a defense, a judge ruled today. Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman shot down Barbara Sheehan’s defense, saying she and her lawyer, Michael Dowd, blew off a court-ordered exam by a prosecution expert. But Dowd said the Sept. 18 exam was never actually ordered. Dowd had a conflicting court appearance that Cooperman cleared with the other judge, but the date of the exam was never finalized in court, the lawyer said. “This is the most awful, unprecedented decision I’ve ever read,” Dowd said outside court. “We have to present a defense without any context of a battered woman’s life.” Sheehan went through the exam and took a battery of psychological tests several weeks later. Worse, Dowd said, was the fact that prosecutors now had Sheehan’s entire account of the shooting – normally they would be unable to question her. Dowd had to turn over the notes of Sheehan’s session with her own expert and the DA’s office recorded several hours of her exams with the prosecution’s shrink. Cooperman placed the blame squarely on Dowd’s shoulders. “All this could have been avoided if we had moved on expeditiously and without delay,” Cooperman told Dowd. “Whose fault is that?” Dowd also accused the DA’s office of hypocrisy, saying that while it cried loud and long about domestic violence while prosecuting state Sen. Hiram Monserrate for injuring his girlfriend, it has gone out of its way to thwart a battered woman from presenting her defense. “The DA has suggested that my client’s history of abuse is some sort of ‘claim’ that she’s making,” Dowd said. “They should be ashamed of themselves.” Queens DA Richard Brown declined comment. [LINK]

2008 VIDEO INTERVIEW


[police officer involved domestic violence law enforcement fatality fatalities murder self defense battered woman's syndrome female]

4 comments:

  1. I have taken refuge in a women's shelter, numb with fear - but I have never been beaten by a man.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My prayers are ongoing that something will soften the hearts of those that continue to re-victimize Barbara Sheehan.

    I can't imagine what she is being forced to re-live as this trial moves forward.

    To think that these rulings will keep the truth of her situation out of the court room appalls me and angers me. When will victims of being continually battered matter?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shouldn't be shocked... in many cases battered women or abused children who fight back aren't allowed to utter a word about the abuse they suffered...not one word.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Delilah, divine intervention is what's needed... that someone will pay attention and interrupt what's happening or that hearts will open to be just and fair.

    ReplyDelete

Please post updates or email them to behindthebluewall@gmail.com. No cop-hating or victim-hating comments allowed. Word verification had to be added due to spam attacks on this blog.