Court case

 

Nicole and Tom have been married for ten years. They are the parents of three children, ages two, seven and nine. Several months after their wedding, Tom began to slap Nicole, occasionally, during arguments. After their first child was born, they started to argue more often. Tom beat up Nicole several times a month. He always apologized, however, telling Nicole that he loved her and had just lost control.  Nicole had to obtain emergency medical treatment several times, but did not press charges against Tom. 

Eventually, Tom's attacks on Nicole became more violent; on two occasions, he slapped their oldest child in the face. Nicole begged Tom to go with her for counseling, but Tom refused. On a number of occasions, he threatened to track down Nicole and the children, killing them all if they attempted to leave.

Nicole believed the threats and felt that she had to get out of this violent marriage. Most of all, she felt that she had to protect her children. Finally, several days after a fight during which Tom again threatened to kill her if she left, Nicole fatally shot Tom while he was sleeping.

The prosecution has charged Nicole with first degree murder. 

Analyze the situation and answer these questions:

1. If you were Nicole's defense attorney, what approach would you take?

2. Does a defense of justification (self defense or defense of others) or a defense of excuse (diminished capacity, insanity, duress) seem most relevant?  Why?

3. How would you respond to the claim that such defenses would make Nicole's act one of legalized revenge?

Answers

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