Domestic Violence Cases
Posted on Jul 20, 2009 12:00am PDT
It is a prosecutor's duty to ensure that a criminal defendant has a fair trial. It is a prosecutor's duty, under the rules of professional responsibility, to do justice.
Recently, I represented a gentleman charged with domestic violence. The judge instituted conditions of release that prohibited my client from having any contact with the alleged victim (his fiance). The alleged victim came into my office and swore up and down that nothing happened --she was never hit, pushed, or even touched by my client. She just wanted to see him again. I filed the appropriate motion, spoke with the prosecutor, had the alleged victim talk with the prosecutor, and met with the judge and the prosecutor in order to try to get the conditions of release changed so that the couple could reunite their small family. The frustrating thing about it is that it just shouldn't take so much work to get justice done. What we had on our hands was an imaginary problem. There simply was no crime to prosecute. The problem is easy to identify, but impossible to remedy: too many assistant district attorneys are not trained or at least are not trained correctly. It is true that statistics are kept that demonstrate how many cases that are brought actually result in some sort of a conviction. It is also true that district attorneys are elected and their statistics regarding prosecutions vs. convictions are a big concern to campaign personnel. How sad is that? Politics before people? What about the alleged victim? If she was actually hit, she was victimized. If she was not actually hit, the district attorney will step in and ensure that the alleged victim gets victimized by asking for, and getting strict conditions of release. I've even seen a district attorney request that a warrant be issued for an alleged victim in a domestic violence case for failing to appear at trial! Just great. I guess someone's gotta go down, and they can care less about who or for what.