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This article is intended to assist practitioners in anticipating and responding to some of the evidentiary challenges in civil cases in which relief is sought for the victims of domestic violence. First, expert testimony is often necessary to dispel common myths about battered women and to educate judges and juries about the dynamics of domestic violence. Recent case law, however, has limited the admissibility of "non-scientific" expert testimony and may make it difficult for practitioners to use experts in their cases. In addition, particular evidentiary issues arise when victims are pursuing both criminal and civil remedies against the batterer. This article will explore the ways in which evidence issues may benefit and inhibit civil actions arising from the domestic violence. Finally, we will discuss the difficulties in using prior bad acts evidence. Because batterers tend to engage in repeated acts of abuse, evidence of prior acts may be particularly relevant in proving the extent of harm and predicting the likelihood of future abuse. Traditional principles of evidence law, however, often prohibit the admission of other crimes, wrongs and acts.


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Publication Citation

34 Fam. L.Q. 43-62 (2000)