Convicted Battered Woman Seeks Relief from Same Court System That Allowed Exclusion of Women from Jury

by Christy Marie Camp, VSPW
Christy Marie Camp was convicted by an 11 man, 1 woman jury for the death of her husband. In the jury selection for her trial, her male public defender (now deceased) opted to select a virtually all-male jury to hear the case where the defense was Battered Woman’s Syndrome. He thought men would be more “sympathetic” to her plight. In a statement he made at sentencing he admitted he made a “grave mistake.”
It took Ms. Camp six years to gather adequate arguments to present to the courts. The district attorney’s office vehemently argued against overturning her conviction. “I hadn’t asked for an attorney, because I had done all the research and preparation of this petition myself.
“The Judge listened to me fight for my life for an hour and a half. He commended me on my self-representation and encouraged me to go to law school. He denied my petition based on the fact that trial counsel was deceased and could not be questioned and because I ‘waited’ six years to file my petition. His ruling didn’t even address my raising the excluded jurors’ rights (based on a 1994 Supreme Court case, J.E.B. vs. Alabama, where the Court ruled that eliminating potential jurors on the basis of gender violated the Constitution).
“It’s difficult to convince anyone to admit there was a mistake. Especially the judicial system which is [supposed to be] based on fairness.”
Even though J.E.B. vs. Alabama prohibits selecting a jury based on gender, the practice is still occurring. “I just met a woman last week whose conviction was rendered by a 10 man, 2 woman jury in 1995. That’s why I am making this wake-up call. People need to know exactly what is going on.”
You can help. Pass it on. Christy seeks declarations from law professors, civil rights educators, attorneys, battered women advocates and women who believe they have been excused from jury service based on their gender. Write! Cards and letters of support are welcome. Christy would like to start attending a correspondence law school. Tuition is $2,450/year and $350-$625 for books and materials. If you know of scholarship programs or grants, please let us know.
Write to Christy Marie Camp, W-32687, Valley State Prison for Women, P.O. Box 92, B4-29-04L, Chowchilla, CA 93610-0092.