A few months ago, I was hired by a woman who had suffered physical abuse, assault, from her husband. The Police had come to their home and arrested her husband, but she was getting a lot of pressure from certain individuals to drop the charges, which included an upcoming hearing for permanent restraints. A temporary restraining order would be converted into a permanent restraining order and he would not be allowed to have contact with her.
Even though she was the victim, her daughter felt she needed me as her lawyer at trial in Middlesex County, NJ Court. It is often difficult to satisfy the test necessary to get permanent restraints – and for good reason. A person benefitting from a permanent restraining order can have the restrained person arrested somewhat easily by calling in a violation. (In fact last year I represented a defendant mired down in a complex case where her ex boyfriend, clearly versed in this area of the law, was able to persuade a desk officer at the local police department to write a domestic violence complaint, which a judge then signed, which the ex then used to have my client arrested numerous times, until we went to trial and had the restraining order dismissed.)
I obtained all the evidence in the Case, including computer aided dispatch reports from the police dispatcher to the on duty patrol officer, photographs and a taped interview with my client. I met with three police officers involved in the Case prior to trial, and reviewed evidence including photos that depicted my client’s injuries.
At trial this past Friday I had two of the police officers and my client testify. The defendant’s lawyer called two witnesses who were at the scene and the defendant, her husband. With careful cross examination, referring to the photographs and exhibits, we were able in closing to point out inconsistencies in the defendant’s story. Some were seemingly innocuous points – he testified he hid a cord under a blanket so his wife wouldn’t wield it, but I reminded the Judge in closing argument the first officer on the scene testified she saw the cord, which the defendant used to choke my client, on the floor when she arrived at the scene. The Judge nodded in approval – often times in “he said -she said” situations, if we find inconsistencies that render witnesses testimony incredible, the Judge, or Jury, don’t have to believe anything they say.
The Judge referenced the points I made in my closing argument in concluding the defendant’s version of the events was not credible, and provided my client permanent restraints against her abusive husband.
Domestic Violence is a very emotional and traumatic area of the law. It’s often difficult for victims to really feel they are getting the help they need, for a number of reasons, including their diminished self esteem from the confused trauma of abuse. I don’t tolerate bullies; I abhor physical violence to impose ones’ will on another. I saw the photos and knew I had to help my client feel protected from her abusive husband. The criminal case is still pending, if he has any contact with my client he will be arrested, and we are prepared to assist the State prosecutor in the criminal action as needed. For now, the prosecutor’s office can order the transcript of testimony from our trial as they build their case against the husband.