United States v. Lopez

913 F.3d 807 (2019)

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United States v. Lopez

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
913 F.3d 807 (2019)

Facts

Lashay Marie Lopez (defendant) was charged with crimes relating to her purchase of a firearm using false identification. Lopez admitted to purchasing a handgun with her twin sister’s identification, but she asserted an affirmative defense of duress. Lopez claimed that she purchased the handgun for Hector Karaca because Karaca had threatened to harm Lopez and her family if she did not get a gun for him. Lopez sought to introduce expert testimony from Dr. Cheryl Karp regarding battered-woman syndrome and the effects of past abuse on a person’s behavior. Lopez had been physically and sexually abused by her stepfather, and she argued that Karp’s testimony could help the jury understand Lopez’s behavior and her fear of Karaca. The district court ruled that Karp’s testimony was irrelevant to Lopez’s duress defense and excluded the evidence. However, the court allowed Lopez to testify about how her past experiences with abuse affected her perceptions of Karaca. Lopez was convicted, and she appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bybee, J.)

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