By all accounts, Dr.Geraldine Richter was a respected member of the community, that community being Arlington, Virginia. Richter, a 42-year-old orthopedic surgeon, and mother of three young children had a thriving medical practice and had never been in trouble with the law. But on the night of November 22, 1990, a police officer pulled over a car because he noticed the car was moving erratically, weaving on the road. The officer suspected alcoholic intoxication of the driver. When he peered into the car, he noticed three young children were there. The driver was Dr.Richter, and when told that she was suspected of drunk driving, she immediately got belligerent. Instead of showing her license and registration, her response was to attempt to kick the cop in the groin. Later, during her trial, she claimed that the cop told her that her children would be sent to child protection for their own safety, and the thought of losing her children set off her violent rage. She cursed the officer, saying, "You son of a bitch, you (expletive) you can't do this to me; I'm a doctor. I hope you [expletive) get shot and come to my hospital so that I can refuse to treat you, or any other trooper that gets shot, I will also refuse to treat them."But she agreed to a breath analyzer test, which confirmed that she was, indeed, intoxicated. She would later testify that the reading showed up positive because she held her breath during the test. It looked as if Richter was about as guilty as you can be, but her attorney came up with a unique defense. He said that her actions at the time of her arrest were caused by Premenstrual Tension Syndrome, or simply PMS. A gynecologist testified that Richter's actions and attitude were consistent with a woman experiencing PMS. In June 1991, Richter was acquitted of the charges of driving while intoxicated and attacking a police officer. The judge had accepted Richter's defense of not being under the influence of alcohol, but of PMS.
There have been other cases in which women claimed that their irrational actions were not under their control, but rather the result of PMS. In a 1982 case in New York, Shirley Santos had her felony charges of child abuse due to the severe beating of her 4-year-old daughter reduced to a misdemeanor because she used the PMS defense to explain her inexplicable fury of violence against a child. In 1994, in Liverpool, England, Jan Painter was acquitted of stabbing her husband with a knife after he had taken money from her purse. The jury took two hours to deliver a not guilty verdict after she claimed her actions resulted from a severe case of . . .