Saturday, October 8, 2011

Police and Domestic Violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Police are involved as abusers significantly more often than other groups of people who commit domestic violence. I contend that means that family members who are abused cannot expect protection from the police departments, and are at greater risk than other domestic violence victims. But it is not only in dealing with the police departments that we have systemic failures in dealing with domestic abusers and victims, as is evident from the second article here.  Courts are also sometimes part of the problem as much as they are part of the solution.  

 From the News Junky Journal:

New State Domestic Violence Law May Affect New York Police Officers Charged with Domestic Assault

Under federal law, individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are forbidden from purchasing firearms. Known as the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, or the “Lautenberg Amendment,” persons convicted of domestic abuse or who are subject to a restraining order are prohibited from transporting or owning guns or ammunition anywhere in the United States. The law also applies to gun dealers who attempt to sell guns to such persons.
While no specific permits apply to rifles and shotguns, the State of New York is notoriously strict about handgun possession. Only those holding a valid pistol license may purchase a handgun, and the weapon must be registered with the state. Also, the gun must be transported in accord with state law.
However, the differences between how New York state and federal domestic violence statutes are applied has created a gap in the law where the information from those found guilty of domestic violence crimes in New York courts is not always transmitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is commonly used for background checks of those purchasing firearms.
Under the new statute, when a defendant is convicted of a domestic violence offense in New York, the court will determine whether the crime is applicable to the federal domestic violence statute and if so, transmit the defendant’s information to the Division of Criminal Justice Services which passes it on to the NICS.
The impact of the new law on police officers could be significant. If an officer charged with domestic assault is also subject to a restraining order, he or she would not be allowed to carry a firearm in the course of his or her work. Such would be the case Roger Roth, a Town of Newburgh police officer who was arrested and charged with assault last June. Police responded to domestic dispute at Roth’s home in Montgomery, and he was accused of hitting a woman in the face with a drinking glass.
Also important is the prevalence of domestic violence in police officers’ own homes. According to the National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP), more than 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, compared to 10 percent of families in the general population. The new statute is particularly critical in situations where an accused abuser has a gun, knows where the victim lives as well as the locations of battered women’s shelters, and knows enough about the legal system to manipulate statements and accusations to avoid prosecution. The added protection of knowing that abusers cannot legally access their service weapons could change the way victims report abuse.
NCWP also reports that victims often fear calling the police, because they know the case will be handled by other officers who, more often than not, know their abuser personally. They also fear that responding officers will automatically side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime.
For those officers who are investigated, the penalties are often benign. Many are assigned to attend anger management or some type of domestic violence counseling. These concessions are usually made in light of the exemption in the federal gun ban specifically created for police officers. Essentially, officers may carry their service weapon while on duty under the “official use exemption” unless a protective order specifically indicates that the officer may not carry a firearm at any time, or departmental policy prohibits him from carrying a weapon while subject to an order.
Further, most police department policies require an officer to report that an order of protection was issued, so that an internal determination can be made about placing the officer on administrative duty (where no weapon may be carried). However, supervisors may see the order of protection as a marital dispute or a “he said, she said” situation that does not warrant any reassignment or disciplinary action.
Also, some officers may plea to charges other than domestic violence to avoid any implications on their ability to carry a weapon. Under the new law, courts will specifically review motions for protective orders to determine if the official use exemption will apply.
Illegal possession of a loaded firearm in New York is a class C violent felony, punishable by a minimum mandatory term of three and a half years and a maximum of fifteen years. As such, domestic abuse convictions and domestic violence protective orders carry considerable consequences for police officers.
Accusations of abuse can have a severe impact on a person’s life, especially if that person is a law enforcement officer. If you have been accused of domestic violence, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Article provided by Brill Legal Group, P.C.
Visit us at

The enlarging and bold print is my emphasis added in the following.  The surrenduring of firearms and other weapons would seem to me to be particularly pertinent in the domestic violence cases where law enforcement officers are the abusers.

A Montgomery County woman broke out in hives and cried uncontrollably during a hearing to get a protective order from her husband this year after a District Court judge ordered the woman — who had a black eye at the time — to work out child support and visitation with her husband in a courthouse hallway, even though the husband was supposed to be under a “no contact” order from the court.
The woman’s husband had attacked her five times, requiring police intervention three times.
The incident was documented by Court Watch Montgomery, a new nonprofit that aims to improve the judicial process for abuse victims, in a report that documents serious lapses in the restraining order process in the Montgomery County District Courts and suggestions for improving the system.
Court Watch contends that lapses — such as failing to keep victims and abusers separate during judicial proceedings — leaves the victims of abuse unnecessarily at risk of violence.
The report is based on observations of 25 citizen-volunteers who monitored more than 640 restraining order hearings between mid-January and mid-July before all 11 Montgomery County District Court judges.
The report finds that:
-- Judges allowed victims and abusers to leave the courthouse at the same time in 85 percent of cases, exposing victims to potential threats and violence after court. In one instance, an alleged abuser and his new girlfriend tried to hit a victim with their car outside the courthouse. The victim wanted to file criminal charges against her abuser after the incident, but her protective order was dated incorrectly, so it was invalid.
-- 67 percent of the time, judges failed to tell abusers it is a crime to violate their protective order, even though telling them this can boost deterrence.
-- In 68 percent of the hearings observed, judges did not tell abusers to surrender their firearms. State law requires the abuser to surrender all firearms to a law enforcement agency if a Final Protective Order is issued, but not for temporary orders. Abusers are not required to turn over other weapons disclosed in court — such as knives, swords, hatchets and other objects. The group would like to see the state law expanded to require more turnover of weapons from known abusers, said Laurie Duker, Court Watch’s executive director.
The group also says three of the 11 judges observed displayed inappropriate, intimidating or belittling behavior to the parties before them. The judges are not named.
More than 4,000 women in Montgomery County are victims of domestic violence every year and national estimates suggest that more than 76,000 Montgomery County women will be attacked by an intimate partner at some time in their lives, according to Court Watch.
In 2009 fiscal year, 4,171 domestic violence and peace order cases were filed in the county’s district courts, according to the Maryland Judiciary.
The report outlines some of the violence victims went to the court for protection from: an abuser who sprayed the wheelchair-bound victim with an outside hose in winter; a man who threatened to throw the couple’s baby in the ocean so that it would drown or over their home’s balcony; a man who threatened to “cut off my face” if his partner dated anyone else.
Since July 1, 2002, 48 people were killed by their partners or ex-partners in Montgomery County, according to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, which supports the report.
In the past year, two Montgomery County residents are suspected of having been killed by their partners and the report is dedicated to them.
On Feb. 9, 2011, Elizabeth Velez Vasquez was chased by her husband into a back bedroom where he cut her 74 times and stabbed her five times. Bernardo Paz Flores-Olvera pleaded guilty to the crime and will be sentenced this week.
The second dedication is to Sue Ann Marcum of Bethesda who was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in her home on Oct. 25. Police suspect Jorge Rueda Landeros, of Juarez, Mexico, killed her.
The report includes 11 low-cost recommendations to make victims safer. Among them:
-- Judges and bailiffs should always allow the victim time to leave the court before releasing the alleged abuser.
-- A victim and abuser should never be left alone in waiting areas without a bailiff present to provide security.
-- Judges should warn every respondent that violating a protective or peace order is a crime that can lead to time in jail.
-- The courts should create a low-cost video in English and Spanish to clearly explain to all parties the complicated restraining order process. This could be played at the beginning of each docket and would save judges time.
Calls for response to the report to Montgomery County District Administrative Judge Eugene Wolfe’s chambers were referred to the Maryland Judiciary’s headquarters in Annapolis.
Angelita Plemmer, a spokeswoman, said the judiciary had received a copy of the report, which is 67 pages, but it was premature to respond Tuesday. She did not know if the judiciary would prepare a formal response.
Court Watch Montgomery’s next task will be to assess any increases in the use of best practices and possibly issue a follow-up report naming underperforming judges if no improvement is seen, Duker said.

Ole Miss Rejects Gun Shop Sponsorship

 The Sun Herald reports

University of Mississippi officials say they are protecting its brand by refusing to allow an Oxford gun shop owner to sponsor a university hockey club.

University attorney Lee Tyner told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that no student organization is authorized to sell sponsorships that pair one of the university’s logos with that of a business.
In his whining and complaining, the rejected sponsor, Nathan Yow, owner of Mississippi Auto Arms Inc., pointed out that the University of Mississippi does have a relationship with a casino.

“When you go to an Ole Miss football game, every other slide that comes on the scoreboard is for Gold Strike Casino, so if you openly accept donations for casinos, how’s that any different from firearms?” he told the Daily Journal.
He raises a good point, a thought-provoking one. I suppose if I were in charge, there'd be no advertising from the casino either, but to consider the gambling business the same as the gun business is just silly.

This is one of the tactics of the pro-gun crowd, to keep trying to present guns as just another tool, to keep trying to present gun shops as no different than any other business. It's all lies.

This is what the open-carry movement is all about.  They represent the most blatant attempt to mainstream guns and gun rights, and they're usually met with derision.

The really wacky gun advocates even say there is biblical justification for owning and carrying guns. But the fact is, far from carrying an AK-47 himself to support them, Jesus would call them whited sepulcers.

Gun shops are not like casinos or bakeries or car-repair shops, they are dealers in death. I realize they have legitimate customers who need guns and manage them responsibly, but along with them they also supply straw purchasers and hidden criminals.  They sell to mentally ill folks who wouldn't pass the most cursory psychological screening, if such a thing existed. They add to the problem; they are the problem.

What's your opinion? Is Ole Miss being discriminatory towards Nathan Yow or are they making the right move in disallowing this alliance?

Please leave a comment.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVA symbol

Something to keep in mind as we post here examples of domestic violence using firearms.

To better acquaint our readers with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, here is some information from the Domestic Violence Awareness Project:

The Domestic Violence Awareness Project...

In 1995, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) convened several national domestic violence organizations – the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and later the National Network to End Domestic Violence – to launch a new effort to support domestic violence programs’ awareness and education efforts for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), observed annually in October. The collaborative effort became the Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP). Today, the DVAP is a diverse and unique partnership of local, tribal, state, and national domestic violence organizations and networks. The DVAP collaborates to collect, develop, and distribute resources and ideas relevant to advocates’ ongoing public and prevention awareness and education efforts not only in preparation for DVAM, but also throughout the year.
The work of the DVAP strives to creatively bring to life its statement of purpose:
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) supports the rights of all individuals, especially women and girls, to live in peace and dignity.  Violence and all other forms of oppression against all communities and families must be eliminated.  The purpose of the DVAP is to support and promote the national, tribal, territorial, state, and local advocacy networks in their ongoing public education efforts through public awareness, strategies, materials, resources, capacity-building, and technical assistance.
These strategies include campaigns that address the victimization of women throughout their lifespan.  The voices, leadership, and expertise of women who have been battered are acknowledged as critical and necessary components of these campaigns.  To change belief systems and practices that support violence and abuse that disproportionately affects women, and other marginalized people, the DVAP recognizes and promotes the participation of the entire community in building social intolerance towards domestic violence.  We will use our diverse and collective voice to promote safe, respectful, and equitable relationships; increase survivor’s access to support systems that are culturally and linguistically appropriate; and foster programming that is responsive to the needs of the LGBTQ community, as well as survivors of abuse in later life. 
©2009 Domestic Violence Awareness Project
3605 Vartan Way, Suite 101 - Harrisburg, PA 17110
800-537-2238 ext. 5
717-545-9456 (fax)
The Domestic Violence Awareness Month Project is coordinated by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, a project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Vilolence.

To better put this in perspective was this article I came across from Topeka, Kansas from '':

Legalizing domestic violence: Topeka's 'terrible' plan to save money

Just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Kansas' capital city is on the verge of decriminalizing domestic battery as part of a budget standoff

Due to budget cuts, domestic violence cases may no longer be prosecuted in Topeka, Kan., potentially sending a "terrible message" to victims of domestic battery.
Due to budget cuts, domestic violence cases may no longer be prosecuted in Topeka, Kan., potentially sending a "terrible message" to victims of domestic battery. Photo: Gaetano/Corbis SEE ALL 24 PHOTOS
The Topeka City Council will decide next week whether to essentially legalize domestic violence in the Kansas capital, in a budgetary game of chicken with Shawnee County, which encompasses Topeka. The fight started when Shawnee District Attorney Chad Taylor, facing a 10 percent budget cut for next year, announced Sept. 8 that his office would no longer prosecute misdemeanor cases, including those involving domestic violence, inside Topeka city limits. The City Council is betting that if it strikes Topeka's ordinance against domestic battery, it will force Taylor to reconsider. Here's what you should know:
What happens if Topeka follows through?If the City Council repeals the domestic-battery ordinance, municipal courts wouldn't be able to take on those cases, effectively sending the ball back to Taylor's court. Domestic violence is still a state crime. But "because only Taylor has authority to decide what cases he files and prosecutes," domestic violence prosecution could slow to a trickle, says The Topeka Capital-Journal in an editorial. Repeat offenders are charged as felons, and the D.A. would still take those cases.
How bad could this get?Already, the standoff is putting victims in grave danger "in the world that does not exist inside of an Excel spreadsheet," says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. Taylor has rejected at least 30 domestic violence cases since Sept. 8, and the 18 people arrested in Topeka for domestic battery have all been released from county jail because no charges were filed. And even if Taylor eventually blinks, and decides to resume prosecuting first-time offenders, the City Council's decriminalization of domestic violence would still send "a terrible message to victims of domestic battery and the entire community," says The Topeka Capital-Journal's editorial board.
How dire is the financial situation?In 2012, the D.A.'s office expects to see $347,765 cut from its budget — which is $3.5 million this year. Of course, if nobody takes these domestic violence cases, it could save some money in the short run, says Marie Diamond at ThinkProgress. But domestic violence has "staggering financial consequences" — medical costs, for instance. There are bigger human costs, too, says Topeka victims' advocate Claudine Dombrowski. If the city and county keep up this "disgusting" fight, "they need to invest in headstones, because these women are going to end up in cemeteries."
Who should shoulder the blame?Everyone involved says they believe domestic violence needs to be prosecuted vigorously, but that they can't pay for it, says Maya Dusenbery at Feministing. And "it’s hard to blame them too harshly for that," given the deep budget cuts hitting states and cities. "Thanks, austerity!" Maybe, says National Organization for Women's Kari Ann Rinker. But right now, local officials are just "finger-pointing and blaming" like 5-year-old children, and they all deserve "some amount of blame" for putting women at undue risk.
Sources: Feministing, Fox 4 Kansas City, The Frisky, Jezebel, Mother Jones, ThinkProgress, Topeka Capital-Journal (2,3,4)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gross Understatement
"I don't have the facts to back this up": Herman Cain

Mr. Cain, you don't have the facts to back up a lot of what you believe.

You are speaking in every media venue that will have you, and you are running not just for any office, but for the most powerful office in the country, possibly in the world.  You have a duty, if you wish to be considered for candidacy to FIND THE DAMN FACTS before you form or express an opinion.  Shame on you and on those who stupidly and ignorantly support you without those facts.

Being Gay is a choice?

No.  Here is the response from gays within your own party, Herman, the Log Cabin Republicans (my emphasis added- DG):

For Immediate Release
Log Cabin Republicans to Herman Cain: We Can Show You the Science

“If Herman Cain truly wants to see the science proving that sexual
orientation is not a choice, Log Cabin Republicans would be happy to
show it to him,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke
“The claim that a person chooses to be gay or lesbian has been
discredited by every major professional medical organization, starting
with the American Psychological Association and the American Medical
Association. An individual’s orientation is no more a choice than the
color of his skin or whether he is left-handed, and too many people have
been hurt because of failed attempts to change the way they were born.”

“I would also be happy to discuss my experiences as a current Army
reserve officer and combat veteran, and the testimony of military
leadership that the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ strengthens our
armed forces and furthers America’s national security interests. It is
unfortunate that Mr. Cain chose to divert attention away from a solid
platform of greater liberty and smaller government by indulging in
anti-gay rhetoric. Log Cabin Republicans sincerely hope that Herman Cain
is open to hearing the evidence and changing his mind on these issues.”
But better than I could point out Cain's other inconsistencies and hypocrisies and failures to base his position on facts (or reason), and there are MANY of them is.......who else, but the inimitable satirists on the Daily Show:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - Rising Cain
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook
Oh, well - at least Herman Cain (or Herbert Cain, as 'Sandra'/ Sarah Palin likes to call him - another person who doesn't have much acquaintance with facts - has replaced both Palin and Bachmann as the token Right Wing minority first tier candidate. Because with statements like this, we can hardly take him as anything but a token.  These are not the statements of a serious person.

I think this one might be my favorite though, of all of the many inconsistencies and fact-free  claims of Herman Cain:

I was particularly struck by Cain's observations, about 6 minutes into the interview, that tries to argue that Hank Williams Jr. did not intend to make a comparison between Obama and Hitler because he did not name Obama specifically. Williams in the interview makes it very clear that he is referring to a specific event and specific people, including Obama. Further, he references Obama by name in other parts of that same interview as the person to whom he refers. This is not just being disconnected from fact and reality, it is intellectually dishonest.

Don't even get me started on all the problems with his 9-9-9 economic proposals for which Cain is reluctant to provide any names for consultants.  That is a joke, and not a very funny one.  It is not a seroius economic proposal, except perhaps in the mind of Herman Cain.  Or.......Herbert Cain.