Monday, March 23, 2009


Max tackles a very sensitive subject that, judging by these vintage ads, has somewhat improved over the years, yet still exists and needs to be talked about.

Max Newport

To paraphrase a Woody Allen line from “Annie Hall”, I believe. Woody, of course, created his own form of family diversity by marrying his stepdaughter but that is not why we’re here. The topic is a serious one; domestic violence. Thanks to the NCAA college basketball tournament, there has been a reunion of sorts . . . the infamous Newport Legal Team, as knowledgeable about all things legal as President Obama is on any topic with a working teleprompter. Over 100 years of legal expertise in one room, many of them spent as former prosecutors and defense attorneys in my little town. All of that experience and talent and no one with a solution to the ongoing problem that is domestic violence.

The topic emerged during a “new facts emerge in the Rihanna, Chris Brown beating case, details after the game” blurb during a commercial break. None of us would have recognized either of the participants in this case if he or she delivered a pizza at the front door and whatever talent they might have that brings them to the limelight continues to be a mystery, but they have brought to the surface an issue that has plagued us for centuries. Domestic violence is a very broad category that goes well beyond men abusing women but most of the cases do involve a male defendant and a female victim.

Each case is different just as each victim and defendant is different but there are certain trends that the lawyers pointed out to me.

A series of war stories emerged but I am not going to discuss any specific cases even though they are a matter of public record. Some issues from certain cases will be addressed only to show some common traits of domestic violence cases.
In many cases, the victim will not cooperate with the prosecution of the case.

This is a sad fact and the crucial question is why? Why would a victim leave the hospital after a beating and go directly to the jail to bail out the person who inflicted the pain? Why would a victim wait patiently, the morning after the arrest, at the courthouse door for the building to open so that she can attempt to persuade the prosecutor to drop charges? Why would a victim take the witness stand during a jury trial and testify to facts that defy and contradict all of the other evidence in the case?

With all of the legal experience in the room there were no answers, only further questions.

Is she afraid of retaliation for going forward with the truth? Is she afraid of financial loss if the perpetrator is her family’s primary means of support? Does she feel that he has learned his lesson and won’t do it again? Is she ashamed that this is going on in her life? Has she been conditioned to think that violence is an acceptable part of a relationship? Does she think it is somehow her fault?
With all of the legal experience in the room there were no answers, only further questions.

Domestic violence has been compared to a disease and without some type of treatment it can escalate. What begins as a push can become a slap, then a punch or a choke. Then weapons can emerge and inevitably someone is seriously hurt or in the worst case, but in an all too common scenario, killed. Like alcoholism, domestic violence is a progressive disease, if not treated. Can it be treated? Maybe not, but it can be punished. People that hurt someone they profess to love, deserve punishment. We know that if a person is in jail, he will not be committing acts of domestic violence.

Since I am not going to discuss any specific cases, I did find a website created by a prosecutor in Clark County, Indiana that has some good information on some of the problems inherent with domestic violence cases.

Since we have become civilized, spouse beating has never been legal. Most of us Southern gentlemen are taught at an early age that you simply do not hit a girl. There is a myth that under old English common law that there was a “rule of thumb” which allowed a man to discipline his wife with a stick so long as it was no wider than the width of his thumb. That is a myth without substantiation. The acknowledged founder of English common law was William Blackstone and he was not an advocate of domestic violence.

When the victim refuses to cooperate with the prosecution of her attacker, that does not make her any less of a victim or her attacker any less of a criminal. Check the sheriff’s webpage and you will see just how many domestic violence arrests are made in Indian River County. Now, check the Press Journal and see how many of these arrests are actually prosecuted. Strike that. The paper would never print that kind of data because it might actually qualify as news. You will have to go to the courthouse and check the public records yourself. Maybe they will soon be online.

Many consider domestic violence a private matter. As a society we cannot. People that commit domestic violence, at a minimum; need to spend some time in jail to think about what got them there and to see their future home if they continue the trend. After punishment, then court ordered counseling is needed to hopefully do something to improve the problem.

It is not often you will see me quote Oprah since I seldom hear her speak, but I did hear her tell Rihanna that “if a man hits you once, he WILL hit you again”. I agree with Ms. Winfrey on that point.

How can we stop domestic violence? Many questions. Few answers.



Blanc Debris said...


You truly speak for the Dude-nation.

If you and all those attorneys really sat in the “courthouse” and didn’t have any answers to domestic abuse, well you are all MRA’s.

“Abusive fathers are far more likely than a nonabusive parent to fight for child custody, not pay child support, and kidnap children.” *

The practice of beating up women and children, kidnapping the kids, going on the lam, convincing family court judges that the woman is crazy, summarily escaping jail time/support payments and having court professionals ignore and label the victim is just the beginning of the Patriarchs myth.

There is a massive amount of data in regards to how, we can treat domestic violence.
Like diabetes, it is a treatable disease. Shall we lock up diabetics to control their blood sugar?

When the father was asked what kind of knife he slit his children’s wrist’s with, he said,
“A brand new one, I didn’t want them to get an infection.”

*(White, A. C., Family Law and Domestic Violence, Fla. Bar J., Oct. l994; see Hansen, M. and Harway, M. Battering and Family Therapy 175 (l993); Grief G. L. and Hegar, R., Parents Whose Children Are Abducted By The Other Praent: Implications for Treatment, 19 Am. J. Fam. Therapy 215, 221 (l991); Zorza, J. Protection for Battered Women and Children, 27 Clearing House Rev. 1437 (l994).

Ricky said...

With all of the legal experience in the room there was not a one with the wit to google for an answer.

Scary. And how out of touch.

Try "why do abused women go back to their abusive partners"

About 509,000 hits.

Here is a start:
"The effect is like a "pendulum of pain," said Steven Stosny, counselor and founder of the anger and violence management program CompassionPower, which treats people convicted of abuse in the home.

Abuse victims will "leave out of either fear, anger or resentment," he said. "But then, after the fear, anger or resentment begins to subside, they feel guilt, shame, anxiety, and that takes them back."

After a violent incident, there is often a "honeymoon period" during which the abuser may apologize profusely, give the victim gifts and persuade the victim to stay, experts say. But when that period is over, the abuser may once again become violent"

Oh... you do not have to hit a woman, just as you do not need to strike a child, to be abusive!

But sitting around and wondering why?


Well, at least you got your abusive Obama comment in. Good job!

BlessUrHeart said...

I can certainly appreciate the frustration of the people who are working to enforce laws designed to protect battered women, especially when they don't understand the psychology of abuse. All their hard work, good work, is down the drain when the victim doesn't cooperate. But Blanc and Ricky are correct, that question has been studied and answered many times.

So were any members of Max's "team" also on Harvard Law Review, or worked at length in communities where these problems get little attention even from the cops? Obama don't need no stinkin' teleprompter, don't need to google, on those subjects. The Newport team might.

Max Newport said...

One can have a different perspective when basing a conclusion on statistics and generalities rather than actual dealings with the people that comprise those numbers. Each case is different. How confident would you be with an attorney who does a Google search to attempt to deal with your problem?

You are suggesting a simplistic approach to a very complex social problem; an approach that can only perpetuate the ongoing cycle of violence.

We are talking about thinking outside of the box and dealing with real people in our community. Women with scars, broken bones and stab wounds that may live down the street from you, not unknown stats from a generic Google search.

Thanks for the help though.

BlessUrHeart said...

Not talking googling stats, Max, just the many many studies [not generalities] of the questions you raise. lawyers all rely on prior cases and research, as well they should. every case in every situation has differences, that's life. but there are also commonalities that help understand each case, too.

Ricky said...

Each case *is* different, but not unrelated. You have to know the box before you can think outside it, Max.

The research in the field clearly has relevance to the questions you raise, and yet not only do you utterly fail to bring any to bear, you actually criticize those that suggest it.

Don't like the Google? How about LexisNexis?

And how dare you say that by promoting a survey of the research available, I am suggesting "an approach that can only perpetuate the ongoing cycle of violence"?

At Least Obama can read, which is more than I am going to do with your future collumns.

Ax the Max!