May 7, 2007
Contact: Mark Rosenthal, <>
Prosecutor Bias Widespread in Abuse Cases, Report Finds
WASHINGTON, May 7, 2007 – Our nationís system of prosecuting persons accused of domestic violence overrides due process and ignores the notion of “innocent until proven guilty,” according to a report released today. “Bias in the Judiciary: The Case of Domestic Violence” concludes that our legal system has gone too far in the prosecution of persons accused of sexual assault or domestic violence.
The report was released by RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – a group working to improve the effectiveness of domestic violence programs.
Many domestic violence cases are seen as weak. In New York City, 59% of criminal abuse cases are later dismissed or adjourned due to lack of evidence. In Hawaii, persons accused of domestic violence were acquitted by the jury in 9 out of 10 cases.
Two-thirds of prosecutorsí offices follow “no-drop” prosecution policies that ignore the victimís wishes. Such policies may be ineffective in stopping subsequent abuse. In one California case, a woman was put in jail for 8 days when she refused to testify. She later won a $125,000 settlement for false imprisonment.
An article in the William and Mary Law Review revealed that “evidentiary standards for proving abuse have been so relaxed that any man who stands accused is considered guilty.” One defense attorney commented, “My client is guilty the minute he walks in the door.”
“In the Duke case, district attorney Michael Nifong was criticized for ignoring due process. But the problem is not limited to just one rogue prosecutor or one state,” notes RADAR spokesman David Heleniak, Esq. “Around the country, the concern for justice has been replaced with the concern for self-promotion and career advancement.”
Our nationís legal system has become so filled with questionable allegations of sexual assault and partner abuse that true victims have trouble getting the help they need, victim advocates say.
The RADAR report is available at: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Bias-In-The-Judiciary.pdf.
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org.
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