Federal lawsuit highlights irony in domestic violence statute

One tangential and unfortunate byproduct of some relationships, both ongoing and following divorce or separation, is family violence, especially acts of domestic abuse that are committed by one partner against another, or against children.

In Georgia and throughout the rest of the country, much about domestic violence that was kept quiet and shrouded in secrecy inside the family home in bygone years is now, thankfully, out in the open and dealt with much more swiftly and resolutely by law enforcement agencies and the courts.

An experienced family law attorney knows how to work seamlessly with other professionals to help a victim secure shelter or get in contact with an advocacy agency that can help put a stop to violence. A proven attorney also knows how to work with the courts to promptly secure orders that protect against violence, such as a restraining order against an offender.

That assistance is predicated, of course, on laws that make sense, something that the ACLU is currently seeking to drive home pursuant to a federal lawsuit it has just filed on behalf of a violence victim in Pennsylvania. A town there has a municipal ordinance that allows for penalties against landlords following the third time that police are summoned to a residence for any type of disturbance.

That happened to the woman. Specifically, she was repeatedly harmed by her partner, with the ultimate result being her eviction from her apartment.

The ACLU and a legion of advocacy groups find such a result to be cruel and misplaced, as well as ironical for the result that battered victims are punished rather than protected. The woman’s defense team has named the municipality as a defendant in the case, saying that its statute impermissibly interferes with victims’ constitutional rights of due process.

The city has issued a responding statement saying that the ordinance “does not, in any way … punish victims of domestic violence.”

Source: Philly.com, “ACLU: ‘Three strikes’ evicted battered woman from home,” Frank Kummer, April 25, 2013

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