This little tidbit in the news last week left me flabbergasted. With everything the story represents, the network mustering less than thirty seconds for the account also proved disturbing. Now, I could be wrong, but I don’t believe it made any local news station, whatsoever – well, maybe in Los Angeles. Turns out the court system in that county has a “Zero Tolerance” policy when it comes to attorneys talking to jurors – it’s labeled as Jury Tampering. So, there is a young attorney who has been assigned a domestic violence case, and some poor woman who has gone through we don’t know what to get her boyfriend/live-in before a judge. In walks the jury, and one of the jurors simply doing his civic duty, and gladly it appears stepped in the room. What juror you ask? Mr. Thomas Hanks.
So, I assume everything went along as needed. I will also assume jury selection took place, “voir dire”, if you will, and Mr. Hanks made the cut. The defendant, Mr. Whomever, is threatened with a one year jail sentence for domestic violence, and we don’t know how much in fines. But, what happens next is where it all falls a part, and not in favor of the poor plaintiff. Some evident star struck prosecutor runs in to, or purposefully timed her use of the stairwell at the same time as Mr. Hanks (we don’t know- no one made that clear). She approached him, and proceeded to explain how they all thought he had done such a wonderful job; what a great person to take the time to come in and serve the way he did. All fine and great for Mr. Hanks, but then, the judge hears of this. First of all, I’d like to know how he did. But, what does the judge do as a result? He declares it jury tampering because of the zero tolerance policy. All of this created the need for plea bargains. Why? Breach of rules thing again. The deal met made everyone happy – all except the plaintiff, I’m certain. The defendant came away having to serve no jail time, and ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $150.00. Really?
You know, I have been in legal for more years than I’d like to admit, and most of that time has been spent in a plaintiff law firm. I have witnessed and heard things that could make me the female version of John Grisham. But, this bit of news has seriously added another strike to my list of reasons why I’m losing belief in our justice system. For me, I have to say instead of Lady Justice being blindfolded to show her neutrality to the dispensing of justice, she has changed her motto. She is now wearing it, because she can’t even stand to witness what the system is doing, or should I say; neglecting.
As a woman, I’d have to say domestic violence ranks high on the list just as rape, sexual slavery, or human trafficking. But, this is one crime that doesn’t stop at physical abuse – among other things, mental abuse is included here. All good reasons why I chose this story. So, the next very important question would be this. The prosecutor who approached Mr. Hanks; this could not have been her first day on the job. She would have to have been aware of this ruling, wouldn’t you think? Now, I have to look at it as though I were in the plaintiff’s shoes. Along with everything else, do I now have double trouble, since my live-in is not going to jail? Is he angrier that he had to go to court at all?
Cases of this nature remind me of Tracey Thurman, the poor woman in Connecticut who continued to call police, time after time, until they tired of responding. In the end the woman’s husband stabbed her causing injury, and paralysis. I took a little time each day, probably over two days to research this LA County case. Each time I went back to the web, the postings had changed. I do believe, once all the facts trickled in – one particular fact – the woman lived with this man, changed the way it all had been depicted. But really, it’s not up to us to pass judgment, and dim the light caused by the fact the plaintiff and defendant are not married. Domestic violence is just that, regardless of anyone’s living arrangements. What do you think?
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