Putting Theory into Practice: A Battered Women's Clemency Clinic
8 Clinical Law Review 171 (2001)
76 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 3, 2001
This article describes a clinical course in which law students petitioned Colorado's governor for clemency on behalf of three women who had been convicted of homicide in the deaths of their batterers. It also describes the broader clemency project that evolved out of that course, in which volunteer attorneys submitted five additional clemency cases. Intended primarily for use by individuals who are considering starting a battered women's clemency project or similar undertaking, the article canvasses the pedagogical, political, media relations, and strategic questions that arose during this particular project. Thus, it recounts how decisions were made as to what clients to represent, what arguments to use on their behalf, and how to structure the course. It also describes inadequacies in Colorado's (fairly typical) clemency rules as they affect battered women, and presents rule reform proposals aimed at addressing those shortcomings. Finally, the article explores the authors' experience in grappling with some of the thornier dilemmas faced by advocates of women who defend themselves against abuse - such as how to counteract media demonizing of their clients; how to articulate clemency arguments for women who had submitted evidence of battering at trial or who were convicted as co-defendants; how to deal with clients who may not be telling the truth; and how to respond to prosecutorial use of domestic violence as evidence of a motive for murder.
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