Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Linda Ammons '87 Honored with Moritz 2004 Community Service Award

Linda Ammons
From left, Linda's mother, Mary McCoy, Linda's long-term mentor and friend, OSU Vice Provost Emeritus Frank W. Hale, Jr., and Linda

Moritz 2004 Community Service honoree Linda Ammons '87 witnessed the impact of the law growing up in Cleveland during the height of the civil rights movement and again as a news reporter in the South covering the ongoing debate about states' rights. As her fascination with lawyering deepened into respect, she followed the advice of a friend and entered Moritz during the fall of 1984. She left three years later with a suitcase full of awards for leadership and commitment to service - skills that would define her work as an advocate for battered women.

Joining the State of Ohio, Linda quickly rose to become Executive Assistant to the Governor. Among her many projects was an investigation into the cases of scores of women incarcerated for murdering or arranging for the murder of their abuser. What Linda uncovered was a pattern of extreme provocation and evidence that the courts would not have dealt so harshly with these women had the law allowed evidence of battering at the time they stood trial. Of battering in those days, Linda says, "When we didn't explicitly condone it, we denied that it was going on and then when we were not denying it, we blamed the victim for it. On any given day, half of humanity could be victimized in this way, and we didn't respond appropriately."

In March 1990 the Supreme Court of Ohio (and subsequently the Ohio Legislature) recognized the validity of battered woman syndrome and ruled it could be admitted as evidence in defending battered women. Linda's systematic review of battered women clemency petitions in the United States led to many subsequent grants of clemency for incarcerated battered women throughout the nation.

Linda Ammons
Linda encouraged first-year students to commit to public service throughout their legal careers.

Linda left the Governor's Office, but not her advocacy for battered women. Returning to Cleveland, she began a new career as a law professor and ultimately Associate Dean at Cleveland State's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Not content to restrict herself to teaching and scholarly research, Linda continued her work as a vocal and effective volunteer spokesperson for battered women. She initiated and chaired for two consecutive years the first American Bar Association National Institute on Defending Women in Criminal Cases and edited a book of course materials on the topic. Among her many speaking engagements was addressing the California legislature on the battered woman syndrome.

In the years since she began teaching, Linda has traveled throughout the United States urging advocates to lobby their own state governments on behalf of battered women. She has lectured in 11 states and five foreign countries on post-conviction relief for battered women. The respect she has earned is reflected in her reappointment to a second four-year term as commissioner on the Ohio Public Defenders Commission, and selection to serve on the faculty of the National Judicial College. Her articles appear in a wide range of publications from law journals to the popular press.

Linda has remained close to Ohio State. She has delivered the Ohio State President and Provost's Diversity Lecture and she is a long-term member of the Moritz National Alumni Advisory Council.