The Battering Parent Syndrome: Inexpert Testimony as Character Evidence

This Note proposes that courts refuse to give further consideration to admitting the battering parent syndrome as evidence in both civil and criminal proceedings arising out of child abuse. Part I of the Note describes the syndrome as it appears in the psychological literature. Part II suggests that current judicial attitudes favor the future admissibility of the syndrome, conditioned only on an improved showing of scientific accuracy. Part III demonstrates that regardless of scientific accuracy, the character evidence rule forbids courts from admitting the battering parent syndrome. Part IV argues that the important policies underlying the character evidence rule override the asserted need for an exception to that rule for the battering parent syndrome in child abuse proceedings.