Golden Gate University Law Review


Scott G. Baker


On March 5, 1993, Assembly Bill 2295 (hereinafter AB 2295) was introduced by Assembly Member Barbara Friedman. On October 11, 1993, the Governor of the State of California vetoed AB 2295. Assembly Bill 2295 was designed to provide a fair and even application of the law to those individuals affected by the issue of battered woman syndrome (hereinafter BWS). Battered women charged with criminal activity after January 1, 1992 are permitted to present battered woman syndrome expert testimony at their trials pursuant to Evidence Code Section 1107.8 Battered women convicted prior to this date remain unjustly imprisoned because they have been denied the opportunity to present this crucial evidence, and there is seemingly no viable avenue of relief. AB 2295 was developed to provide a remedy to these individuals. Assembly Bill 2295 proposed to give individuals whose convictions for killing their abusive partners became final before January 1, 1992 a chance for review of their original trial through a writ of error coram nobis or writ of error coram vobis. Assembly Bill 2295 would have only affected individuals whose cases at trial would have been bolstered by the admission of battered woman syndrome evidence pursuant to Evidence Code Section 1107. This article will explain why Assembly Bill 2295 was and still is necessary to provide relief for battered women convicted prior to the enactment of Evidence Code Section 1107, and includes discussions of: BWS theory; use of BWS testimony in California Courts; Evidence Code Section 1107; and an analysis of Assembly Bill 2295. The article will discuss the problem presented by Evidence Code Section 1107, and critique the only purported "avenue of relief' available for a battered woman convicted of killing her abusive partner prior to January 1, 1992, namely executive clemency. The article will include a discussion of Geneva Love's case, which provides a compelling example of the need for an alternative to clemency, such as AB 2295. The article will outline Governor Wilson's concerns regarding AB 2295. The article will then respond to Governor Wilson's stated bases for rejecting the Bill. This will include an argument in support of a version of AB 2295 modified to address Governor Wilson's concerns with AB 2295, which will provide a procedure for battered women convicted of killing their abusive partners prior to the enactment of Evidence Code Section 1107 to benefit by its provisions.