Advocacy group: Court lacking in response to domestic violenceWritten by Patrick Timmis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent Advocates will hold a press conference June 21 at 11:00 a.m. to release its Domestic Violence Court Watch Report for 2010.
The grassroots organization, which is dedicated to improving the community’s response to domestic violence, will release the report in the corridor between the Public Safety Building and Toledo Municipal Court on Erie Street.
Rebecca Facey of Independent Advocates said there are about 13,000 domestic violence-related 911 calls in Lucas County every year. She said in 2007 domestic violence was the leading cause of murder in the county.
“It continues to be a huge problem that goes unchecked in the court system,” Facey said.
Independent Advocates spent the past year monitoring domestic violence cases filed in the Toledo Municipal Court in 2010. The highlights of the report are:
- “1,916 DV (domestic violence)-related criminal misdemeanor cases were filed in Toledo Municipal Court in 2010.”
- “Bonds issued by judges on DV cases ranged from $0 or unconditional Own Recognizance to cash bonds of up to $50,000, showing a lack of consistency in judicial response to DV.”
- “82% of the DV cases in 2010 resulted in either complete dismissal or were amended to lesser non-DV-related charges.”
- “13% of DV cases result in DV convictions, allowing future DV charges to be enhanced to a higher misdemeanor or felony. (5% of DV cases are still pending from 2010.)”
- “Only 1% of domestic violence cases went to trial in 2010. That is 28 out of 1,916 cases in the whole year.”
- “34% of DV cases involved repeat offenders.”
The report concluded that the court is unprepared to effectively respond to domestic violence and fails to convict enough offenders.
“In reality we know a woman is beaten an average of 20 times before she ever calls the police in the first place,” Facey said. “So women are desperate by the time they come to the court.”
Independent Advocates made several recommendations for improvements, including streamlining all domestic violence cases through one courtroom, beefing up training in domestic violence for staff, strengthening the court’s stance toward domestic violence and dedicating more resources to finishing cases.
“Right now the message is, you can pretty much get away with it if you can get the victim not to come to court.” Facey said. “What we’d like to see is prosecutors taking a stronger stance and saying this is the city versus the defendant, not the victim versus the defendant.”
Court officials were contacted but have not yet responded to a request for comment.