Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Protecting or Re-Victimizing a Victim?
In monitoring this case, CourtWatch saw how truly difficult a judge's job can be - trying to balance the requirements of the Law against the often opposing wishes of the victim. Ford's victim repeatedly told the State that she wanted to prosecute and told Defense Counsel that she wanted to drop charges. Ultimately, because both sides were convinced of what she had told them, Judge Lubet issued a Material Witness Warrant in June to have her picked up and to testify in court as to what her real position was. Click here for more info.
When she first appeared before the judge, she affirmed her desire to testify on behalf of the State and the judge released her. She then failed to appear for trial, and a second warrant was issued. This time Judge Lubet had her held at the jail. Only after Mr. Ford knew that his victim was in custody and was prepared to testify, did he accept the State's plea offer of 4 years in the Department of Corrections.
It is important to note that this was not Ford's first assault on an intimate partner. He has had several other women (5 or 6 I believe) whom have been victimized by him but who have been intimidated into dropping charges.
Is this re-victimizing the victim by incarcerating her and charging her for costs of investigation? Yes.
Is it also doing what was necessary to uphold the Law and make a batterer be accountable for his actions? Yes.
Is it the judge's responsibility to protect the victim against making bad choices that could lead to her being in a position to be assaulted or even killed? You tell me.
The result of Friday's hearing? Judge Lubet denied the victim's request to visit Mr. Ford while he is incarcerated for the next four years. He told her that he would not be party to permitting Ford to continue to victimize her.
CourtWatch likes to see perpetrators held accountable for their crimes, particularly as it relates to repeat offenders and we commend the judge for doing precisely that. But we don't like seeing victims re-victimized by the justice system.
In spite of the expenses incurred in tracking her down, CourtWatch thinks the Court should waive the costs of investigation in this matter. If Ford is/was financially supporting her, having this added financial burden continues to make her feel dependent upon him and his family, thereby making it more difficult for her to make a break from them.
Was this justice? How would you have handled the case?