In early 2010 A new study on domestic-violence killings and a recent murder/suicides in Loveland, Colorado has prompted calls for better training of the officials who deal with divorce and custody issues.
Incredibly, jin Colorado udges, some mediators and special advocates (Special advocates are court appointed lawyers or therapists who investigate, report and make recommendations to the court on issues that affect children in custody cases) receive no mandatory domestic-violence training.
H. Michael’s Take:
It is clear to me that almost all judges in Colorado try to make an informed decision at the critical stages of domestic violence cases. However, all too often, the judges rely on the recommendations of the politically reactionary District Attorney — whose position is based on the “no risk” model of prosecution. Take no chances and you will never be held to answer for your recommendations by the voters.
When decisions on the conditions of bond (amount of bail – living arrangements of the defendant – no contact orders- as examples) -are made in open court, judges need to give greater deference to the wishes on the victim. It is in this arena that most victims of domestic violence are treated as if they were children and not respected and perceiving adults. This judicial approach is inconsistent with and flies in the face of the Colorado Victim’s Bill of Rights …
A judge’s decision in the area of Colorado alleged domestic violence should reflect the same principles of support and respect accorded to victims of all other crimes. Perhaps additional training will assist judges in these tough – and yes, risky- decisions.
To read the actual Colorado Victim’s Rights act:
The Colorado Victim Rights Amendment Guarantees To Victims And Witnesses
The Following Rights
The following is a summary of the rights guaranteed by the Victim Rights Act (For a complete listing of your rights, please refer to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 24-4.1-101 through Section 24-4.1-304.)
•To be treated with fairness, respect and dignity;
•To be informed of and present for all “critical stages” of the criminal justice process;
•To be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, and the right to be informed about what steps can be taken if there is any intimidation or harassment by a person accused or convicted of the crime or anyone acting on the person’s behalf;
•To be present and heard regarding bond reduction, continuances, acceptance of plea negotiations, case disposition, or sentencing;
•To consult with the district attorney prior to any disposition of the case or before the case goes to trial and to be informed of the final disposition of the case.
•To be informed of the status of the case and any scheduling changes or cancellations, if known in advance.
•To prepare a Victim Impact Statement and to be present and/or heard at sentencing.
•To have restitution ordered and to be informed of the right to pursue a civil judgment against the person convicted of the crime;
•To a prompt return of the victim’s property when no longer needed as evidence;
•To be informed of the availability of financial assistance and community services;
•To be given appropriate employer intercession services regarding court appearances and meetings with criminal justice officials;
•To be assured that in any criminal proceeding the court, the prosecutor, and other law enforcement officials will take appropriate action to achieve a swift and fair resolution of the proceedings;
•Whenever practicable, to have a safe, secure waiting area during court proceedings;
•Upon request, to be informed when a person accused or convicted of the crime is released from custody, is paroled, escapes or absconds from probation or parole.
•Upon written request, to be informed of and heard at any reconsideration of sentence, parole hearing, or commutation of sentence;
•Upon written request, to be informed when a person convicted of a crime against the victim is placed in or transferred to a less secure correctional facility or program or is permanently or conditionally transferred or released from any state hospital;
•To be informed of any rights which the victim has pursuant to the constitution of the United States or the State of Colorado.
•To be informed of the process for enforcing compliance with the Victim Rights Act.
If you or a loved one is charged with an acto of domestic violence in Colorado — please do not hesitate to call me — 303-627-7777 or pager 303-543-4433 or, in an emergency – my cell 720-220-2277.