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R.v Lavallee ; Supreme court of Canada

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Makayla Chaulk

on 23 April 2013

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Transcript of R.v Lavallee ; Supreme court of Canada

1990 R.v. Lavallee Angelique Lavallee Battered Woman
Syndrome That night there was a party at the couple's home. Friends of the couple were downstairs at the time of the shooting they said that they heard the appellant yelling and screaming and also they victim yelling before they heard the two gun shots. Dr. Shane, a psychiatrist talked with Lavallee for hours after the incident. He stated that Lavallee talked about her ongoing terror, the life threatening abuse and inability to leave the relationship. He stated that those are all symptoms of Battered women syndrome. He said that she was not in a right mental state at the time and she truly believed that if she did not do something that her life was in grave danger. The courts Decision The Crown counsel wanted Dr. Shane's opinion of the appellant be removed because of the lack of physical evidence, but the trail judge optioned that an appropriate charge to the jury would suffice. He instructed them that the more Dr, Shane based his facts on facts testified in court, the less weight it should be considered with. Lavallee claiming it was self-defense did not testify at the trail.
The issue was whether or not the opioion of Dr. Shane was addmissable due to his basis of facts not testified in court. What happend? Lavallee and her common law partner Kevin Rust (the victim) had an abusive relationship. On the night of killing Rust supposedly seriously injured Lavallee and threatened her saying "Kill me or i'll kill you." At some point during the night Rust was the one who handed Lavallee the gun. She first fired through a screen. She contemplated shooting herself, however when Rust turned to leave the room she shot him in the back of the head. What is battered women Syndrome? Battered women syndrome is a psychological condition resulting from consistent or severe domestic violence. The theory behind it states that a woman learns helplessness after cycles of repeated violence. A woman becomes depressed to a point where she is unable to take independent action to fight back, to escape or to seek help from others. The theory has been viewed as controversial when presented in court cases where a battered woman has killed her abuser. It is considered a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. Witnesses Dr. Shane Witnesses also later stated that she was frequently a victim of physical abuse. The Ultimate decision made by the supreme court was the acquittal of Ms. Lavallee However The judge took into consideration that the admissibility of professionals had already been decided in the R.V. Abbey case ( another supreme court case) Rationale on the Issue “Per Dickson C.J. and Lamer, Wilson, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and McLachlin JJ. It is difficult for the lay person to comprehend the battered wife syndrome. It is commonly thought that battered women are not really beaten as badly as they claim, otherwise they would have left the relationship. Alternatively, some believe that women enjoy being beaten, that they have a masochistic strain in them. Each of these stereotypes may adversely affect consideration of a battered woman's claim to have acted in self-defence in killing her partner. Expert evidence can assist the jury in dispelling these myths. Expert testimony relating to the ability of an accused to perceive danger from her partner may go to the issue of whether she "reasonably apprehended" death or grievous bodily harm on a particular occasion. Expert testimony pertaining to why an accused remained in the battering relationship may be relevant in assessing the nature and extent of the alleged abuse. By providing an explanation as to why an accused did not flee when she perceived her life to be in danger, expert testimony may also assist the jury in assessing the reasonableness of her belief that killing her batterer was the only way to save her own life. Expert evidence does not and cannot usurp the jury's function of deciding whether, in fact, the accused's perceptions and actions were reasonable. But fairness and the integrity of the trial process demand that the jury have the opportunity to hear that opinion. Here, there was ample evidence on which the trial judge could conclude, apart from the psychiatrist's evidence, that [Lavellee] was battered repeatedly and brutally by the deceased over the course of their relationship. The expert testimony was properly admitted in order to assist the jury in determining whether [Lavallee] had a reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm and believed on reasonable grounds that she had no alternative but to shoot. Each of the specific facts underlying the expert's opinion need not be proven in evidence before any weight could be given to it. As long as there is some admissible evidence to establish the foundation for the expert's opinion, the trial judge cannot subsequently instruct the jury to completely ignore the testimony. The judge must, of course, warn the jury that the more the expert relies on facts not proved in evidence the less weight the jury may attribute to the opinion.” (Supreme Court of Canada, 1990)
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