The scourge of family and intimate partner violence plagues every community and causes long-term physical and emotional injuries to victims and children. Despite strong legislative safeguards, judges across the state have been unwilling to grant the full protections of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA). NJP’s statewide campaign to ensure families and children receive the full protections of law resulted in several court rulings that dramatically improve protections for Washington families.
The June 29, 2017 unanimous Supreme Court decision in Rodriquez v. Zavala unequivocally establishes that exposure to domestic violence harms children and that a parent’s fear of harm for a child comes within the definition of “domestic violence” for purposes of a petition for a domestic violence protection order.
In a far reaching case argued by NJP-Bellingham’s Mary Welch, the Court of Appeals (Div. III) ruled that failure to grant year-long domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) is an abuse of discretion that fails to fulfill the legislative intent to provide safety for victims.
In Maldonado v. Maldonado, Court of Appeals (Div. I), NJP-Everett’s Mark Ferraz and NJP-Bellingham’s Mary Welch challenged the court’s entry of a short term DVPO that protected only one of three children who had been abused by their mother, and directed the father to seek a modification of the parenting plan to address the safety concerns for all of the children.
NJP-Spokane Senior Attorney Jacqueline High-Edward and NJP-Pasco’s Karla Carlisle successfully petitioned the Washington Supreme Court to review a case where the Court of Appeals, Div. III, held that a parent could not petition for an order protecting a child based on the parent’s fear, without providing evidence of the child’s fear or evidence that domestic violence is harmful to children. In this case, the trial court entered a DVPO protecting the mother and three of her four children.
NJP was granted leave to appear as amicus (friend of the court) in an important recent Supreme Court case of Aiken v. Aiken, Supreme Court No.92631-0. In Aiken, a father challenged entry of a domestic violence protection order and sought cross-examination of his teenage daughter, who had attempted suicide to avoid visitation with the abusive father.
In another case to enforce provisions of domestic violence protection laws, NJP joined Legal Voice in a motion seeking publication of a Court Appeals (Div. II) decision “that the trial court abused its discretion when it declined to enter a finding… [of] a domestic violence history because it wanted to protect” the perpetrator from collateral consequences. Legal Voice’s David Ward was the attorney in In Re The Parentage of L.H.
September 29, 2016 by Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times
A 46-year-old Auburn man with a lengthy history of domestic-violence convictions is accused of fatally shooting his estranged girlfriend after she refused to reconcile with him. He had recently been released from jail after an earlier domestic-violence incident involving her.
In another excellent decision NJP joined with Legal Voice as amicus in a case that challenged the trial court’s denial of a sexual assault protection order because the petitioner had failed to prove acts of the respondent which made her fearful of future contact. The Court of Appeals (Division I) reversed and remanded holding that “the SAPO Act does not require a petitioner to prove an allegation of ‘specific statements or actions’. The only substantive allegation … to prove was that a sexual assault occurred.” Megan Roake, Appellant v.
NJP also appeared as amicus in two important cases involving protections for victims of sexual assault. NJP Advocacy Coordinator Leslie Savina joined the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Legal Voice as amici in a case challenging the trial court’s denial of a sexual assault protection order because the petitioner, a UW freshman who, was too intoxicated to remember the events surrounding her rape by another student, could not contradict the respondent’s claim that she had consented.