not much question who pulled the trigger on July 17, 1999 that
ended Jackie Anderson's life. With domestic violence homicide
there rarely is. But those who cleared the path to Jackie's murder,
like those who pave the way to the homicides of so many women,
have once again escaped under the cover of law and order.
It doesn't take much
digging to trace the trail of injustices that gave David Anderson
the green light on his violence against Jackie all the way back
to 1992. The half-hearted investigations, the failures to protect,
the undercharging, and the give-away plea bargains are readily
available on the public record if only people would look. And
buried just a little deeper in the transcript of a routine hearing
is the moment that sealed Jackie's fate; a work-a-day example
of courtroom fun, laced with a lethal contempt for women.
It was three weeks
before Jackie's murder, when the Mendocino County District Attorney's
Office reviewed the latest domestic violence crime report against
David. The Sheriff's Department crime report recommended that
the DA charge three felony counts; one each of domestic violence,
false imprisonment, and terrorist threats. But the deputy district
attorney, noting that Anderson was already on probation for two
previous crimes, took the easy way out. By simply charging Anderson
with violations of probation, the work of prosecuting the violence
done to Jackie and the effort of dealing with a victim could all
be avoided. Victims, it seems, cramp this attorney's style.
so, with this slap-on-the-wrist approach, the district attorney
still had the opportunity to protect Jackie Anderson's life. In
a violation of probation hearing a simple request from the district
attorney could have held David in jail without bail. Look at what
After a few preliminaries
at the July 2 violation-of-probation arraignment, defense attorney
Schlosser asked probation officer Cropp, "Has probation had a
chance to work this one up at all?"
Probation Officer Cropp:
"We're adamantly opposed to release at this time."
The Court: (Judge Ronald
Brown) "I haven't heard the term `adamantly' for a while."
Defense Attorney Schlosser:
"I don't think he knows what that means."
Probation Officer Cropp:
"I learned how to spell it this morning."
That was it, the sum
total of the argument for Jackie's safety. The judge blithely
ordered a low bail, and with an easy $256 David Anderson was released.
Two weeks later on July 17, 1999 Jackie Anderson was dead, and
her three children were made motherless for life.
happened in the court on July 2 was neither accident nor twist
of fate, nor was it the slip-up of one man. It was the inevitable
careless disregard that permeates the system when domestic violence
isn't taken seriously and when women's lives don't count. Probation
officer Cropp knew David's record and he knew what needed to be
done. He even mouthed the words in court. But when his words were
turned into a game, Cropp instantly forgot Jackie and joined in
the fun. Judge Brown also knew David's record of domestic violence.
He had it right there in front of him and, in fact, referred to
it in the proceedings. And when the probation officer stated he
was "adamant" for no release, it was Judge Brown who ignored the
gravity and started the fun.
And what about deputy
district attorney Richard Martin? As in all such proceedings,
the deputy district attorney had primary responsibility to argue
for Jackie's and the community's protection. Throughout the proceedings,
Martin never once opened his mouth on the subject.
At the start of the
third millennium, it's well known that firm criminal justice response
to domestic violence is the one thing proven to prevent domestic
violence homicide, and to prevent it well. The cities where law
enforcement and courts have taken these crimes seriously have
reduced their domestic violence homicide rates by up to 60%. Those
officials who withhold justice from women are as knowingly culpable
in the women's deaths as a doctor who withholds penicillin from
a patient with pneumonia.
the weeks after Jackie's murder, before we had obtained the transcript,
Mendocino County District Attorney Norm Vroman went on radio and
assured the community that his office always asks for high bail
in these situations. District Attorney Norm Vroman lied. And when
asked by reporters why he hadn't filed domestic violence charges
on the most recent crime report, District Attorney Norm Vroman
answered that there was insufficient evidence. The District Attorney
lied again. The police report shows that there was more than sufficient
evidence to file on all three recommended charges. Like any other
common perpetrator aware of his guilt, the District Attorney lied
to cover his deeds.
When women are murdered
in your community, look into the public record, and talk with
the family and friends. The trail of criminal justice system complicity
that leads directly to so many homicides of women must be exposed.
And the officials guilty of this complicity must be held to answer.