Jenner & Block

“The Story of Wanrow: The ‘Reasonable Man’ and the Law of Self-Defense,” Criminal Law Stories (co-authored with Prof. Donna Coker)

Jenner & Block Partner Lindsay C. Harrison co-wrote a chapter in an anthology titled Criminal Law Stories, published in December 2012 by Foundation Press. The book is a collection of case stories that “focus on the pre-litigation behavior of defendants, raising important moral and cultural questions about human nature and human society and how social norms get translated into workable legal doctrines,” according to the publisher. Ms. Harrison’s chapter, “The Story of Wanrow: The ‘Reasonable Man’ and the Law of Self-Defense,” tells the story of Yvonne Wanrow, a Native American woman whose convictions for first-degree assault and second-degree murder raised fundamental questions about the significance of race and gender in understanding the “reasonable man” standard governing the law of self-defense. Ms. Wanrow’s convictions had been reversedby a Washington State appellate court, but prosecutors appealed to the state Supreme Court in 1976. Ms. Wanrow argued that she killed in self-defense: The victim was an intoxicated whiteman and known child molester who towered over her 5-foot-2-inch frame, entered a friend’s home uninvited and drunk, approached the bedside of a sleeping child and appeared to be moving towards her.  The case mobilized feminists, Native Americans and anti-violence organizations and entered law school casebooks on the issue of what constitutes a fair trial for women. “The shift in law that resulted from Wanrow’s appeal recognized in the clearest terms possible that the circumstances and experiences of women must be accounted for if a jury is to determine the ‘degree of force which . . . a reasonable person in the same situation . . . would believe is necessary,’” Ms. Harrison writes in the introduction.

Ms. Harrison is a member of the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice. She participates in appellate litigation matters before the federal appellate courts and the Supreme Court in a wide variety of subject matters. She also has substantial experience litigating matters involving the hospitality industry, successfully representing hotel management companies in high-stakes, multi-million dollar lawsuits and arbitrations In addition, Ms. Harrison has a substantial pro bono practice, which has included a successful argument before the Supreme Court on behalf of an asylum-seeker and the ongoing representation of a death row inmate in Georgia.

Please click here to learn more about the book.