Case Profile

Carol Herriman

Battered woman convicted of murder

Carol Herriman was The Arizona Justice Project’s first exoneree and her case was the Project’s first of several important cases dealing with Battered Woman’s Syndrome.

Carol Herriman was The Arizona Justice Project’s first exoneree. In many ways she exemplifies the best of the work of the Project. She was convicted of murdering her abusive husband in Yavapai County, Arizona back in the 1980’s. When her case went to trial, the law of Arizona did not recognize the justification defense available in other states for battered and abused women. In the mid 1990’s, however, the Arizona legislature opened the door for women with bonified claims of abuse to seek clemency.

The Arizona Justice Project presented her case to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency. The presentation was the work of a team of students from the University of Arizona led by a volunteer criminal defense lawyer, Bob Hirsh. The Project also called on volunteer contributions of experts in the field of battered and abused women.

The Board voted unanimously that Carol should be released. She was released after a personal visit to the prison by then Governor Jane Hull. Herriman’s story did not end there, however, as she continued after her incarceration to want to help other women who had suffered similar convictions.

In 2004 she agreed to go to Des Moines, Iowa to tell her story at a national conference of the American Judicature Society. Carol’s case turned out to be the first of several important battered women cases brought by the Arizona Justice Project.