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R v Lavallee, [1990] 1 SCR 852


L abused by partner over period of time. Got in a fight he told her she would get it later. When leaving the room L shot partner in back of head. Expert testified to support defence of self-defence


Test: Only admit expert evidence in spousal abuse cases if average (ordinary) person is not going to have sufficient knowledge to judge appropriately.

Social science evidence is relevant to the 1st and 2nd part of 34(2)


Imminence is not a requirement for reasonable apprehension in this case.

Expert evidence gives meaning to reasonable apprehension test
*Requiring imminence can lead to injustice
*Helps people understand the circumstances of the accused – where in the abuse cycle she is and what is the likelihood of harm
*If we didn’t invite this expert testimony we would be sentencing women to “murder by installment” – women cannot save themselves from the batterers

Summary on the admissibility and usefulness of expert testimony
*1. Expert testimony is admissible to assist the fact-finder in drawing inferences in areas where the expert has relevant knowledge or experience beyond that of a lay person
*2. It is difficult for lay person to comprehend the battered-wife syndrome
*3. Expert evidence can assist the jury in dispelling these myths
*4. Expert testimony relating to the ability of an accused to perceive danger from her mate may go to the issue of whether she ‘reasonably apprehended’ death or grievous bodily harm on a particular occasion
*5. Expert evidence pertaining to why an accused remained in the battering relationship may be relevant in assessing the nature and extent of the alleged abuse
*6. By providing evidence as to why accused did not flee when she perceived her life to be in danger, expert testimony may also assist the jury in assessing the reasonableness of her belief that killer her batterer was the only way to save her own life

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