AlterNet had this story on their blog today, and I just couldn't pass it up because of the INSANE reasoning this judge had!
Domestic violence cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute.
But every once in a while, prosecutors get handed the tools for a conviction on a silver platter: An impartial eyewitness who just happens to be a police officer.
Such was the case in a domestic violence trial that made the local papers here in Maryland last week. A cop pulling into an Exxon station saw a man hit his girlfriend in the face three times, called in back-up and had the man arrested.
But according to Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul Harris, who is "probably as against domestic violence as anybody, when the case is proven," one can't simply assume that a woman who is being hit didn't consent to the attack. "Sadomasochists sometimes like to get beat up," the judge reminded the courtroom--then acquitted the man.
The judge appeared to be in a snit because the girlfriend, the alleged victim in the attack, had disappeared, even though she had been ordered to testify. Ignoring decades of research proving that domestic violence victims are often too afraid and intimidated to testify against perpetrators, the judge discounted the female cop's eyewitness account.
Can you imagine?? He has a police officer as a eye witness, and he questions if it was done on purpose! WOW!
The link above has a video news story on this as well!
According to the Baltimore Sun:
The amazing part was the Judge Harris's comments afterward. You have to wonder how much he needed....maybe a video?
According to charging documents, a police officer was on routine patrol when she saw Michael Antonio Webb approach a car at an Exxon station in Laurel. Webb reached in the driver's side door and swung his hand three times at the driver, police said.
Webb, 24, of Columbia is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 315 pounds, according to charging documents. Now serving a four-year prison term after pleading guilty to a drug distribution charge in June, Webb was unavailable for comment yesterday but had pleaded not guilty in the assault case.
His attorney, Kara Donaldson, was out of the country and could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The officer testified in court that she was 25 feet from the car at the time of the incident.
"I witnessed him use his right hand, not in a fist, but in, I guess, an open hand, and push the female's face. ... As I saw him grabbing her hair ... and trying to pull her out, that's when I called it on the radio," the officer said, according to a recording of the hearing.
The woman told the officer that Webb had attempted to pull her out of the vehicle, causing her hairpiece to fall off, and that he hit her in the face, though she characterized it as "more of a tap than a punch." The woman had no visible injuries, police said.
The officer testified, "She appeared scared. She was talking very quiet to me. She wasn't making eye contact with him."
But Harris, in an interview in his office yesterday, said the state did not prove its case, saying there was "too much speculation."Harris noted that the jury instructions on charges of second-degree assault say that it must be proved that "the defendant's actions were not consented to by the victim.""How do you determine that without the victim?" Harris said, adding that criticism of his handling of the case was "blown out of proportion."
Harris said the sadomasochist comment was intended as a hypothetical. "I'm probably as against domestic violence as anybody, when the case is proven."
Here is a Link from the Baltimore Sun AUDIO Version of the verdict itself!
Lynn McLain, a professor at the University of Baltimore, said: "Very often, domestic violence victims do not appear and do not testify, and often that is because they are intimidated by the abuser."
Of the judge's comments, McLain said, "It certainly seems to me these comments were unusual. ... They were inappropriate. And I would suspect that those comments would be reported to the [Commission of Judicial Disabilities], and they would investigate to see whether they were inappropriate."
I personally hope the judge gets nailed GOOD! No matter WHO comes to him with a domestic abuse case you know HOW he is going to rule! I can only imagine what he would have said if it was the other gender was assaulted! I'm sure equally as insulting. Do Judges NOT have the responsibility to keep up with WHY things are done the way they are? His lack of Domestic Violence knowledge is appalling!
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