A New Strategy for Neutralizing the Gay Panic Defense at Trial: Lessons From the Lawrence King Case


This Comment contributes to the legal scholarship on the gay panic defense by proposing that, in light of social science research on implicit bias and the foundational clinical data on gay panic as a psychological phenomenon, prosecutors highlight the inconsistencies between the psychology underlying gay panic and gay panic as a legal claim in the presence of the jury. This Comment recognizes that gay panic may very well exist as a legitimate psychological condition. Gay panic should not, however, be an effective means for reducing a defendant’s culpability for killing a gender-nonconforming individual because of homophobic bias. This Comment offers its proposal in the context of the recent trial of teenager Brandon McInerney for the murder of his openly gay, effeminate classmate, Lawrence King. In this sad California case, despite the social advances in favor of the LGBT community and the introduction of California’s Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, antigay stereotypes apparently operated in the jurors’ minds.

About the Author

David Alan Perkiss, JD, is a graduate of UCLA School of Law, 2012, and was the Editor- in-Chief of the Dukeminier Awards Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law, Vol. 11.

By uclalaw