Domestic Violence Cases Fail Under Court Ruling

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Each day, as many as one-half of domestic-violence cases set for trial in Dallas are thrown out because of a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling reasserting a suspect’s right to confront his accuser in court, the Dallas Morning News reports. Domestic-violence victims often refuse to cooperate with prosecutors out of fear for their safety or because they reconcile with their alleged attackers. “Women are terrified sometimes to testify because they’re scared he might kill them,” said Paige Flink of The Family Place, a Dallas domestic-violence shelter. “If it’s the first offense, it’s not likely going to be jail time. If she sits up and tells the truth on the stand, it can really put her in jeopardy.”

In the past, when a battered woman changed her mind about charging her mate, prosecutors often would win convictions by having a police officer recount what a victim said happened. Since the March high court ruling in Crawford vs. Washington in March, courts across the country have found it much harder to use those statements in trial unless the victim is available to be cross-examined by the defense. “This is going to knock out a bunch of cases, and it’s too bad,” said County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Fox, who presides over domestic-violence trials. “On the other hand, in every other case a defendant has a right to address, face and confront his accuser.”


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