Monday, March 28, 2005

Colorado Supreme Court Determines Scope of Victim-Advocate Privilege

In this criminal domestic violence case, the Colorado Supreme Court was asked, for the first time, to determine the scope of the victim-advocate privilege, embodied in section 13-90-107(k)(I), C.R.S. (2004). The defendant, Robert Turner, Jr., was charged with domestic violence against a particular individual, M.P. Turner issued a subpoena duces tecum to the Alliance Against Domestic Violence, a private domestic violence organization, demanding production of records of M.P.'s contact with the organization. The Alliance moved to quash the subpoena. Following a hearing on the defendant's Motion to Compel production, the trial court ordered the organization to produce a broad outline of the type of assistance provided to M.P. The Alliance petitioned the Supreme Court pursuant to C.A.R. 21 for review of that order. The court issued a Rule to Show Cause, which it now makes absolute - reversing the trial court order. The court now holds that the records of assistance provided to M.P. by the domestic violence agency are within the scope of the statutory privilege, and are, therefore, protected.

The court first looked to the statutory language protecting "any communications" made by the victim to the advocate, and concluded that such language would include the initial contact made by the victim with the agency, as well as communications generated from that contact. The court next took direction from legislative history indicating that the legislature intended a broad sweep of confidentiality in an effort to encourage domestic violence victims to seek assistance. Accordingly, the court concluded that the privilege would protect the records sought, absent a showing of express or implied waiver of the privilege by the victim, which was not present in this case. Also, the court held that the defendant's due process rights were not violated by denying him access to the records. Likewise, the court rejected the defendant's contention that his right to compulsory process requires that the Alliance comply with his subpoena. It reasoned, among other things, that the statute sufficiently protects the defendant's right to compulsory process by excluding records held by law enforcement victim advocates. The full opinion can be found at

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Body Shop Survey Finds Over Half US Adults Know Someone Who Has Suffered At The Hands Of A Violent Partner

A study by The Body Shop Americas Region reveals that an estimated 157 million Americans -- about 56% of us -- say they know someone who has suffered at the hands of a violent partner. When questioned about how they'd react if physically assaulted for the first time by a current or future partner, more than a third (39%) female adults say they'd leave immediately.

Yet the reality is that a woman suffering domestic violence will attempt to leave her abuser an average of 5 to 7 times before actually doing so.

And more than one third (34%) of women across America told researchers for The Body Shop they would be too embarrassed to tell their family and friends if they were being abused by their partner. The Body Shop 'Donate a Phone, Save a Life' campaign urges people across the United States to donate old or unwanted cellular phones at any of 300 plus The Body Shop U.S. retail locations from today through August 31, 2005.

Donated phones will be sold, refurbished or recycled, with proceeds benefiting the NCADV and the Wireless Foundation. Additionally, a number of phones will be distributed to approximately 200 women's shelters for dissemination to at-risk women who need access to a personal safety system when domestic violence strikes.

"I know from personal experience that this is a great cause that highlights an important and too often ignored issue," said Missy Elliott. "On behalf of The Body Shop, the NCADV and the Wireless Foundation, I urge everyone to dig up their unused wireless phones and bring them to your closest The Body Shop retail store. It is the easiest way to make a huge difference, and you might even save a life."

"Millions of unused cell phones can be the difference between life and death for countless domestic violence victims," says Joanne Calabrese, President of The Body Shop Americas Region. "As Americans begin to spring clean this season, we urge everyone to dig up those old or unwanted cell phones collecting dust in the back of a drawer or closet and bring them to your nearest The Body Shop. There has never been a simpler way to personally get involved in a public awareness campaign that ultimately can save lives."

Collecting cell phones can be an individual or collective effort. In fact, Amnesty International has agreed to partner with The Body Shop to lend a hand to this cause. With the goal of collecting 100,000 cell phones between now and the end of summer, the added support of reputable organizations like Amnesty International is invaluable.

The Body Shop is committed to campaigning to Stop Violence in The Home because it wants to make a real difference and impact in the fight against domestic violence. To further demonstrate this commitment, The Body Shop sponsored activities earlier this month in collaboration with Lifetime Television's 4th Annual "Stop Violence Against Women Week" in Washington DC. The U.S. campaign is also part of a company-wide effort to combat domestic violence - similar cell phone collections are taking place throughout Europe and Asia.

KRC Research conducted this nationally representative telephone survey of 1,021 adults aged 18 and over for The Body Shop. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence level. The Body Shop is an international, values-driven retailer of top-quality products for skin, hair and body care as well as a full line of make-up. The company has more than 300 stores in the U.S. and more than 2,000 locations in 50 countries spanning 30 languages and 12 time zones. The Body Shop Stop Violence in The Home campaign aims to break the silence around this issue and bring support, awareness and education to The Body Shop customers and employees. Visit for more information.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Biggest Health Risk For Australian Women Ages 15 To 44 Is Domestic Violence

According to a recently released study, the biggest single health risk factor for Australian women aged 15 to 44 is domestic violence.

The study, by Access Economics and submitted to a conference in Brisbane, says domestic violence is costing Australia more than $8 billion a year. The study says domestic violence is causing high rates of injury, depression, eating disorders, drug abuse, and early death. Access Economics has looked at the incidence of domestic violence between intimate partners in Australia and the flow-on costs of that violence. The study does not include violence against children.

Access Economics' Lynne Pezzullo says researchers were surprised by the health impacts of domestic violence. "If you measured the impacts of domestic violence as a risk factor for other conditions like suicide, femicide, depression, anxiety disorders, cervical cancer as well as other smoking-related illnesses because there is an increased propensity to smoke, you'd actually find that domestic violence is the largest risk factor for health for women aged 15 to 44," she said. Ms Pezzullo says much of the cost of domestic violence is borne by the victims."In fact people who suffer from domestic violence bear about half of the cost of domestic violence," she said. "You look at the costs of prevention activities and preventing domestic violence from happening and intervening early to stop it from continuing, and there's some good arguments for cost effective interventions in those areas."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Harvard University Group Calls South Carolina Pro Bono Program Innovative

A Harvard University group says a South Carolina project that trains criminal and civil lawyers to be volunteer prosecutors in domestic violence cases is one of the country's most innovative government programs. The Pro Bono Domestic Violence Prosecution Program is run by the attorney general's office. It's in the running for one of six $100,000 grants from Harvard and The Council For Excellence In Government. The Attorney General's program trains and supervises volunteer attorneys to prosecute criminal domestic violence cases in local court jurisdictions that lack a government prosecutor. Pro Bono attorneys also prosecute cases in Columbia's CDV court.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New North Carolina Laws on Domestic Violence Bring Little Immediate Change

Two new North Carolina laws meant to protect workers from domestic violence and its repercussions on the job have had little impact in the months since they were enacted. Advocates for victims say they are still being fired for losing work time to cope with their situation, and few employers appear to be taking advantage of their new right to order abusers to stay away from the workplace. "Employers can't let you go for taking time off to get a restraining order," said Johnny Lee, head of the anti-violence advocacy group Peace at Work. "But they can fire you for being a domestic violence victim."

One new law, which went into effect in October, is meant to protect workers from being fired, demoted or disciplined if they take reasonable time off to seek a protective order against an abuser. Another, effective in December, allows employers to file restraining orders on behalf of workers who may be victimized by abusers at work. Of 144 wrongful termination cases filed this year with the state Department of Labor, one in January involves a Charlotte woman who claims she was fired while securing a restraining order - the first complaint filed under that provision of the new law, state officials say. Lee, based in Raleigh, noted that the law does not define "reasonable," adding that securing a restraining order, which includes court appearances, can take as many as three days. Of 380 restraining orders filed in Mecklenburg County so far this year, only one came from an employer. Sheriff's records show the Westin Charlotte hotel filed a restraining order last week on behalf of a concierge. Hotel officials declined to discuss details, but the company told The Charlotte Observer in a statement that it applauds the state for passing a law that "enables businesses to proactively protect our employees.

Monday, March 07, 2005

20 Year Old Woman Shot & Killed Outside Her Workplace

A 20-year-old woman died on March 4, 2005, after police believe her boyfriend shot her at work. Around one o'clock, Lubbock police say Erica Perez was returning from lunch to the Cingular Call Center, when her boyfriend blocked her car and jumped inside. Witnesses told police they heard loud arguing and then two gunshots. Erica was taken to University Medical Center after she went into cardiac arrest.

Just after 1:30 p.m., 22-year-old Raymon Montelongo Junior came to LPD with information regarding the shooting. His black Monte Carlo matched the vehicle description of the car on scene. Police have processed the car and found a .380 semi-automatic pistol and have just told NewsChannel 11 they arrested Montelongo on murder charges.

Police say the couple did live together for a year, and they do believe domestic violence could have been a factor in the young girl's death.