Washington Law Review


Jennifer Marsh


The Washington Supreme Court, in State v. Wanrow, examined the issue of self-defense for women under Washington law and held that the application of traditional self-defense rules resulted in prejudicial treatment of women defendants. This note will examine the meaning of the Wanrow decision and offer support for its holding in light of available psychological and sociological data. Additionally, this note will suggest a special analytical framework utilizing social science data to test accepted legal doctrines for latent sex discrimination. The importance of these data in exposing such discrimination will be shown by examining related cases in the area of sexual assault. It is concluded that, while the analysis in the Wanrow case is deficient, the result finds support in empirical data and is a forward step in the area of self-defense law in Washington.

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