Prosecution and Defense Strategies in Domestic Violence Felonies in Iowa, 1989-1995 (ICPSR 2811)

Published: Mar 30, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Carolyn Copps Hartley, University of Iowa. School of Social Work; Roxann Ryan, State of Iowa Attorney General's Office

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02811.v2

Version V2

This study consisted of an in-depth analysis of the trial strategies used by the prosecution and the defense in domestic violence-related felony cases. The research objectives of this study were (1) to catalog the evidentiary constraints in domestic violence-related cases -- specifically, the types of character evidence and prior acts of defendants allowed during trial, (2) to show how the prosecution presented its case in domestic violence trials by identifying the key prosecution themes and strategies, (3) to present the specific evidence used by the prosecution to prove the elements of a case, and (4) to describe the themes and strategies used by the defense to counter the prosecution's case. Researchers focused on the admission of evidence of other acts of violence, known as "context" evidence, which characterized the violent relationship between the defendant and victim. The design involved a qualitative analysis of felony trial transcripts in Iowa from 1989 to 1995, in which the defendant and victim were involved in a domestic relationship. Part 1, Coded Transcript Data, contains the coded themes from the text analysis program. Background information was gathered on the length and type of relationship at the time of the incident, and the substance abuse and criminal histories of the defendant and the victim. Incident variables include current case charges, type of trial, description of physical injuries, whether hospitalization was required, type of weapon used, and whether the defendant or the victim owned a firearm. Other variables describe prosecution and defense strategies regarding evidence, identity, credibility, the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victim, the intentions of the defendant, and how the police handled the case. Demographic variables include the race of the defendant and the ages of the defendant and the victim. Parts 2-40 consist of the actual court transcripts.

Hartley, Carolyn Copps, and Ryan, Roxann. Prosecution and Defense Strategies in Domestic Violence Felonies in Iowa, 1989-1995. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-03-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02811.v2

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-WT-NX-0003)

Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

1989 -- 1995

1995

(1) Parts 2-40 contain the actual court transcripts that were coded to create the quantitative data in Part 1. The court transcripts were sent to ICPSR as ASCII text files. ICPSR combined some of the files so that the entire transcript for each defendant is provided in a single file. ICPSR did not format the ASCII files in any way. Since most of these files have line lengths that exceed 80 characters, users interested in printing the files should use a word processing program to avoid truncating the text. (2) Parts 2-40 contain court transcripts for 39 of the 40 defendants analyzed in this study. The quality of one paper transcript was too poor for the principal investigators to scan into an electronic file and this transcript was coded by hand to obtain the data for Part 1. (3) The user guide and codebook are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Website.

To date, studies of the prosecution of domestic violence cases have been limited to charging decisions, and no research has examined prosecution or defense strategies in domestic violence cases. This study consisted of an in-depth analysis of the trial strategies used by the prosecution and the defense in domestic violence-related felony cases. The research objectives of this study were (1) to catalog the evidentiary constraints in domestic violence-related cases -- specifically, the types of character evidence and prior acts of defendants allowed during trial, (2) to show how the prosecution presented its case in domestic violence trials by identifying the key prosecution themes and strategies, (3) to present the specific evidence used by the prosecution to prove the elements of a case, and (4) to describe the themes and strategies used by the defense to counter the prosecution's case. Researchers focused on the admission of evidence of other acts of violence, known as "context" evidence, which characterized the violent relationship between the defendant and the victim.

This study involved a qualitative analysis of felony trial transcripts in Iowa, from 1989 to 1995, in which the defendant and the victim were involved in a domestic relationship. Prior incidents of violence were not a requirement for case selection. The study was limited to the single jurisdiction of Iowa for three reasons: (1) jurisdictions with differing laws make equivalent comparisons difficult, (2) Iowa prosecutors developed the first prosecution manual on domestic abuse in 1990 and have since received regular training on domestic violence, and (3) Iowa is a relatively homogeneous jurisdiction with a tight-knit prosecutor's organization. The decision to study only felony domestic violence cases was based on the assumption that criminal justice officials and jurors treat felony cases more seriously than misdemeanor domestic violence cases. In addition, felony cases are likely to yield trial strategies that are more defined and more complex than those for misdemeanors. The decision to study only convictions was based on the fact that it was easier as well as less expensive to identify cases and obtain transcripts for cases that led to convictions. Once transcripts were obtained for all sampled cases, paper transcripts were scanned into computer files and saved in ASCII format. All computer files were then edited to meet the requirements of the qualitative text analysis program. Part 1, Coded Transcript Data, contains the coded themes from the text analysis program. Parts 2-40 consist of the actual court transcripts.

Convenience sampling.

All felony domestic violence cases in the state of Iowa from 1989 to 1995.

Court cases.

court transcripts

administrative records data and machine-readable text

For Part 1, Coded Transcript Data, background information was gathered on the length and type of relationship at the time of the incident, and the substance abuse and criminal histories of the defendant and the victim. Incident variables include current case charges, type of trial, description of physical injuries, whether hospitalization was required, type of weapon used, and whether the defendant or the victim owned a firearm. Other variables describe prosecution and defense strategies regarding evidence, identity, credibility, the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victim, the intentions of the defendant, and how the police handled the case. Demographic variables include the race of the defendant and the ages of the defendant and the victim.

Not applicable.

None.

2000-10-27

2006-03-30

2006-03-30 File CB2811.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

2001-06-05 The ASCII text court transcripts that were coded to create the data for Part 1 have been added to the collection as Parts 2-40.

2000-10-27 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

NACJD logo

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.