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A Defense That Could Find Legal Sympathy

Publication Date: 
September 11, 2011
Source: 
Los Angeles Times
Author: 
Carol J. Williams and Shari Roan

Professor Robert Weisberg is quoted in the below Los Angeles Times article where he discusses postpartum depression and how it is no longer being seen by judges and jurors as "junk science" instead becoming more identifiable.

When Sonia Hermosillo was rolled into court last month in a wheelchair and handcuffs, the 31-year-old La Habra woman accused of killing her baby exhibited signs of the postpartum psychosis her husband says she suffered.

She was too distraught and unresponsive, a week after 7-month-old Noe fell or was thrown to his death from the fourth floor of a parking garage, to enter a plea to charges of murder and assault on a child. Her arraignment in Orange County Superior Court has been put off to the end of September, and she remains under suicide watch at the county jail.

...

"Most people are only one or two degrees of separation from someone who has had this," Robert Weisberg, a Stanford criminal law professor, said of postpartum illness. "I don't think this is junk science. It has salience for people. You've had celebrities like Brooke Shields, someone of great fame and sterling character, describing this as almost fatal.... Even if you can't exactly identify with it, it resonates as something that happens to real people."