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News Scan

The Postpartum Defense in Today's Courtrooms:  Carol J. Williams and Shari Roan of the LA Times have this piece about the postpartum defense in today's courtrooms, where jurors and judges are possibly more educated about the condition as a result of national media attention.  In the defense's early years, courts tended to convict the women of murder and hand down long sentences, but Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University claims that "the law has caught up with the science that this is a legitimate criminal defense."  Professor Melissa Murray of UC Berkeley says she has found 18 cases in which women charged with murdering their children asserted a defense of temporary insanity due to postpartum psychosis, and about half were acquitted and committed to mental institutions.  The issue has reemerged in light of murder charges recently brought against an Orange County woman for the death of her seven-month-old son, who fell or was thrown to his death from the fourth floor of a parking garage. 

Convicted Murderer Maintains Innocence, Despite DNA Confirmation:  Pennsylvania inmate Scott Oliver continues to maintain his innocence in the 1989 rape and murder of 11-year-old Melissa Jaroschak despite recent DNA tests confirming that hairs found on the girl's body matched Oliver.  The Innocence Project requested new DNA tests in Oliver's case last year, but withdrew Oliver's appeal and ended its involvement after the tests confirmed Oliver's guilt in July.  In an order filed today, Oliver claims he did not wish to withdraw his appeal and that he is entitled to a hearing to show his innocence.  A judge appointed another attorney to take over the case.  Sarah Cassi of The Express Times (Lehigh Valley) has this story.

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