Marking #WomanJusticeDay in Maryland

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Over at the Twitter machine, Tracey Heinhold (@theinhold), Jack Metzler (@SCOTUSPlaces), and others are posting today with the hashtag #WomanJusticeDay to recognize the 126 women serving on states’ highest courts. Maryland is among the 11 states with female-majority supreme courts. The current female majority on the Court of Appeals of Maryland is four-to-three; it was briefly five-to-two before the retirement of Judge Lynne Battaglia.

Coincidentally, Steve Lash (@Steve_Lash) notes, from behind the paywall at The Daily Record, that the Court of Appeals “split along gender lines” this week in Porter v. State. Porter addresses whether a wife accused of hiring a contract killer to murder her allegedly abusive husband was entitled to an “imperfect self-defense” instruction to try to convince the jury to convict her of manslaughter instead of first-degree murder. Lash writes:

The court’s four female judges concluded that Porter has a potential imperfect self-defense argument based on battered spouse syndrome, a mental condition akin to post-traumatic stress disorder that places its victims in perpetual fear of assault. Maryland law acknowledges battered spouse syndrome as a criminal defense in domestic violence cases.

But the court’s three male judges dissented, assailing the majority for expanding self-defense doctrine “beyond the limits of immediacy and necessity.”

The Court of Special Appeals, whose opinion was reversed, did not divide along gender lines. In its panel opinion, previously covered here, the now-vindicated dissenter was Judge Dan Friedman, who would have ruled for the wife. Judge Kathryn Graeff joined Judge Christopher Kehoe’s majority opinion affirming the conviction.

 

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