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Calif. Senate Panel Limits ‘Panic’ Defense

Monday, July 17, 2006

  • Organization: New York Blade Online (www.newyorkblade.com)
  • Source: CALegalAdvocates > CALegalAdvocates.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
A state Senate committee passed a bill last week that would make it more difficult for defendants in criminal cases to use the so called “panic” strategy in murder cases. Propelled by a 4-2 vote, the California Senate Public Safety Committee bill now moves to the Senate Appropriates Committee next month, the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter reported July 6. Known as the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, the bill would make it illegal for defendants to play upon the bias of a jury. It also would require a revised jury instruction to ensure that a juror’s duty to operate free from bias is clearly stated, and calls for the attorney general to develop and distribute materials to prosecutors to educate them on the panic strategy. The bill is named in honor of Araujo, a transgender teenager who was killed in October 2002. Araujo, 17, befriended several young men who later turned on her at a house after discovering she was a biological male.

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