Friday, July 29, 2011

Adjunct Prof. James Gilliam published op-ed: Attorneys regrettably revive the 'gay panic' defense

Adjunct Professor James Gilliam recently published an op-ed in the Ventury County Star. Below is an excerpt with a link to the entire piece.

Attorneys regrettably revive the 'gay panic' defense. It's a classic tactic when defending an indefensible crime: blame the victim, especially if that victim is gay.

The odious strategy is unfortunately common enough to have a name, the "gay panic defense," and it holds that a heterosexual man cannot possibly be expected to maintain his sanity when confronted with a same-sex advance.

While it has popped up as a justification for Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder and even, implausibly, as a reason behind the brutalization of gay patrons during a 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas, bar, it isn't generally successful.

Which is what makes especially depressing its recent appearance in the Chatsworth courtroom where 17-year-old Brandon McInerney is on trial for the 2008 shooting of his classmate, 15-year-old Lawrence King.

His defense attorneys say McInerney was so horrified by a request by King to be his valentine that he was driven, a day later, to bring a pistol to class at Oxnard's E.O. Green Junior High School and shoot King in the back of the head. While they admit he shot King, they told reporters he did it "in the heat of passion caused by the intense emotional state between these two boys at school."

Read the entire op-ed

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