Monday, June 1, 2009

Arrest Warrant for Victim Issued Today

In monitoring Judge Marc Lubet's courtroom today, I saw the State request a material witness warrant for their case against Charles Allen Ford (2008CF16142), a defendant who has battered numerous women over the past 10 years, all of whom have declined to prosecute him. Defense Counsel Sherlene Cruz from the Public Defender's Office represented that the victim signed a Declination of Prosecution in February and as of last Friday told her office that she does not want to proceed. Assistant State Attorney Pam Davis called their investigator and Victim Advocate testify, both of whom advised the Court that the victim is cooperative and does want to proceed. She was, however, not in court this morning.

Judge Lubet wisely granted the State's motion for the warrant in order to hear from Ford's victim himself. Generally speaking, CourtWatch opposes re-victimizing victims in this manner. She is now subject to being arrested and brought before the judge. But the conflicting versions of what the victim wants to happen, coupled with the facts of the attack (alleged strangulation together with a gruesome photo of the back of her head where the defendant allegedly struck her with a hammer) and his lengthy history of several victims not prosecuting, indicate that extraordinary measures are needed to hold Mr. Ford accountable for his crimes.

Defense Counsel requested that Mr. Ford, who was in a downstairs holding cell, be brought before the judge so that he could explain the ruling and the fact that Ms. Cruz had vigorously opposed the State's motion. It wouldn't surprise me if he was attempting to intimidate his attorney too. Judge Lubet graciously agreed to do so.

If only the State had the resources to protect Mr. Ford's victim adequately, then she might feel safe enough to proceed. Until we can protect victims from retribution by their batterers, we stand little chance of making significant strides in holding perpetrators accountable, thereby reducing the prevalence of these assaults.

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