Gonzalez-Valdes v. Florida

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  • Fairness in the Courts
  • Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Authored Amicus Brief
2003

Determined whether the prosecution of a domestic violence victim for murdering her husband was impermissibly tainted by the prosecution's baseless suggestions that she worked as a prostitute.

Summary of the Case

Yaite Gonzalez-Valdes is a Florida domestic violence survivor who was convicted of murdering her common-law husband. The prosecution repeatedly made baseless suggestions that Ms. Gonzalez-Valdes had worked as a prostitute The prosecutor's conduct was all the more objectionable because it violated a pre-trial order prohibiting any evidence suggesting that Ms. Gonzalez-Valdes had engaged in prostitution.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum participated as an amicus in the appeal seeking retrial. Our co-counsel on the brief were Nina M. Sollo and Professor Donna Coker of the University of Miami Law School.

Our contributions to this brief were crafted by our National Judicial Education Program, which has worked for decades to eradicate sex bias and sex stereotyping in the courts. We pointed to the extremely damaging impact of the prostitution claim on Ms. Gonzalez-Valdes's credibility, both as a defendant and as a survivor. The stereotypes associated with prostitutes lead jurors to believe that a woman is untruthful; that she must have provoked or deserved any abuse she suffered; and that she would know how to take care of herself and therefore could not be a "real" survivor of violence.

Decision

The Florida Supreme Court denied review.