Arraignments do not always take place in the courtroom, as Robert G., 19,(hereinafter, the “Defendant”) learned yesterday. He was arraigned in a Worcester hospital bed on charges of killing his ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old Allison M. (hereinafter, the “Deceased”). The Deceased was a Fitchburg State College freshman. In the past, she had obtained at least two restraining orders to keep the Defendant away from her, authorities said.
The Defendant was charged with first-degree murder, and violating the restraining orders, after allegedly stabbing and shooting to death the Deceased. He remains in critical condition after allegedly trying to kill himself as well.
“We are alleging that this is another troubling incident of domestic violence resulting in homicide, where the defendant is alleged to have fatally stabbed the victim, his ex-girlfriend, and then attempted to kill himself,” Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a press conference this afternoon at his office in Woburn.
“This is the second such incident we have in consecutive weeks, where we are alleging that a male defendant has killed his former or present female significant other, and then seemingly tried to end his own life,” Leone said. “We must continue to find ways to stem this tide of alarming domestic violence incidents.”
According to the Boston Globe, the incident occurred at about 8 p.m. Saturday night. The police investigated reports of a stabbing in Shirley. The Deceased was pronounced dead at the scene, and the Defendant was flown to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
It is impossible to call this story anything but tragic. However, it does highlight a part of our system which is not working very well.
The Deceased apparently had gotten two restraining orders regarding the Defendant and still the Defendant was in violation on them, given that both were found together. In truth, the story does not indicate exactly what occurred, or how the explosive confrontation took place. However, we do know that they were together, which violated the restraining orders.
While some may argue that this shows that restraining orders should be even easier to get and enforce, I would submit that the opposite may be true.
In today’s justice system, restraining orders are awarded extremely easily…and perhaps this is why they are not taken as seriously as they should be.
By cloaking a 209A hearing (proceeding to get the restraining order) as a civil proceeding, instead of criminal, we have humored ourselves into believing that, while if the order is not granted, there is danger afoot, if it is granted, even unnecessarily, it is “no harm, no foul”. Anyone acquainted with the system is aware that this is not true. While we say that the proceeding is civil in nature, the order denies Constitutional rights, goes on one’s CORI and gives the complainant a weapon to use against a defendant any time there is anger.
The request for the order is almost always allowed and it rarely matters what the defendant has to say.
The restraining order hearing should be considered to be what it is – criminal in nature and, as a result, the safeguards associated with criminal matters should be given. They should be taken seriously by the courts.
And then they must be taken seriously by the rest of society. It is difficult, however, when the orders are given, often with little to no showing, or with an abject refusal to consider evidence presented by the defendant (if the evidence is allowed in the first place) for the orders to be given the respect that is so necessary to avoid these tragic endings.
Please do not misunderstand. I am not belittling the need for the seriously watched restraining orders. Quite the opposite. It has become a game and it is much too important to everyone involved to stay that game in an intelligent legal system.
In the meantime, as always, if you are facing a 209A hearing, or allegations involving same, and wish to discuss it with me, please feel free to contact me at 617-492-3000.
To find the original story upon which this story is based, please go http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/01/ex-boyfriend_ch.html