A Voice for Victims

St. Louis lawyer Amy Lorenz-Moser appears in a documentary for her work with battered women in Missouri.

 

Last fall, the St. Louis International Film Festival screened “The Perfect Victim,” a provocative, heart-wrenching documentary film following three women who were incarcerated for killing abusive partners. St. Louis lawyer Amy Lorenz-Moser is featured in the film for her efforts to fix the legal system and bring hope and clemency to some of these women.

The Cause

Lorenz-Moser, a lawyer at Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis and a board member of the Missouri Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, knew she wanted to go to law school ever since her first year as an undergraduate. Her resolve hardened when she witnessed a man come into her school’s student center and assault a woman working at the counter there. After the police arrived, Lorenz-Moser reassured the woman that she would testify for her—but the woman did not want help.

“She just thought that would make the situation worse and more dangerous for her,” Lorenz-Moser recalls. “I knew this was an area of the law that I needed to get involved in.”

After she entered law school at the University of Missouri, one of her professors encouraged her to get involved with the Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition, which represents battered women in the state of Missouri who were incarcerated for killing their abusers at a time when abuse was not admissible at trial. In other words, whether or not they were victims of abuse was not taken into consideration when determining these women’s fates. Lorenz-Moser represents many such women in Missouri, all of them pro bono cases, and has already seen three of her clients released from prison.

The Film

Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, a filmmaker who lives in New York City, was captivated by such stories after learning about them through a St. Louis friend who was part of a local women’s group.

“I realized that there was not only a compelling story to be told, but also a social issue that people knew very little about,” Rohrbaugh says.

After a year of exploring the issue, Rohrbaugh assembled a team and set out to create a full documentary about it. She connected with Lorenz-Moser, and quickly decided to focus on the work of the Missouri Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition.

“I didn’t want to tell stories with no hope,” Rohrbaugh says. “I wanted to show that there are people out there fighting for those who are unable to help themselves.”

Lorenz-Moser says that while the laws in Missouri concerning battered women are improving, there is still a lot of work left to do. She’s hopeful that this film, which has been nominated for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists‘ EDA Award and is due to be released in 2013 by Journeyman Pictures, will leave an impression on those who see it and encourage them to get involved by volunteering at local women’s shelters. “There is a lot of need in a lot of areas, not just legal,” she says.

Lorenz-Moser has been named a Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers Rising Star® for 2012 and has recently been selected as a 2012 Top Rated Lawyer in Commercial Litigation by Martindale-Hubbell and American Lawyer Media (ALM). She is currently waiting to hear back from Governor Nixon’s office about petitions for clemency for two clients with extreme cases.

 

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Amy Lorenz-Moser

Amy Lorenz-Moser

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“The Perfect Victim”

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Photo credit: Headshot courtesy of Amy Lorenz-Moser. Prison photos featured in the documentary courtesy of Elizabeth Rohrbaugh.

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