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Activist Lawyer Dies in Utah Plane Crash

Posted Jun 3, 2009 6:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An activist lawyer who pioneered the battered spouse defense died last Friday in a Utah plane crash.

Lawyer Susan Jordan, 67, was a passenger in a two-seater plane flown by long-time friend John Austin, a health care executive, when it hit a power line and crashed, according to stories by the Associated Press, the Recorder, the Oakland Tribune and the Press Democrat.

Jordan had represented members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Earth First and the Black Panthers as well as medical marijuana growers.

In one of her best-known cases, she represented rape victim Inez Garcia, who was acquitted in a 1977 retrial on the basis of self-defense. The Oakland Tribune says the case has been held up as the first to recognized battered woman’s syndrome as an affirmative defense.

William Osterhoudt, a friend who had practiced law with Jordan, said she had spent her life defending those she believed to be oppressed or victimized by the government. "We called her a 'movement lawyer,' ” he told the Recorder.

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