Saturday, February 27, 2010

Case Revives Debate Over Protection Orders

How protective is an order of protection? The short answer is: It depends.
While experts on domestic violence say orders of protection can clearly forestall harm — they point out that 87 percent of the victims of family-related killings last year in New York City did not have one — a piece of paper, even one bearing the imprimatur of a court, is certainly no guarantee of safety. This is especially true if the paper in question is delayed, ignored or never served.
That is what seems to have happened last fall to a woman who obtained a temporary order of protection from a Family Court judge in the Bronx against David W. Johnson, a top aide to Gov.David A. Paterson. Transcripts of recorded court hearings suggest that when the woman tried to serve Mr. Johnson, he refused the order — as did his lawyer a few weeks later. A police spokesman said Thursday that officers did deliver papers to Mr. Johnson, but he never appeared in court to answer them.
The woman herself, who is soft-spoken and expresses fear in the court recordings, seemed unaware that Mr. Johnson had been served by the police, and after a phone call from the governor, she failed to appear for a hearing seeking a final order, leading to the matter’s dismissal.
Continued in the NYT HERE

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