Requires that police
and prosecutors give victims one free copy of the domestic violence
report within five days of being requested (Family Code Section
6228). The big advantage for victims in this legislation is
that they will be able to determine if all the evidence available
has actually been investigated and entered into the report. Some
officials in Sonoma County are failing to complying with this legislation
and are refusing to make the reports available to victims under
Requires that Family
Courts make a presumption that giving
custody to a perpetrator of domestic violence is detrimental
to the child (Family Code Section 3044).
Requires that the
California Judicial Council make domestic violence forms available
in languages other than English by July 1, 2001 (Code of Civil Procedure
Section 185). This legislation, and more like it, is especially
needed in Sonoma County where police and prosecutors frequently
make inadequate efforts to obtain accurate statements from Spanish-speaking
victims of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse.
Provides that an employer
may not discharge, discriminate, or retaliate against an employee,
domestic violence victim who takes time off work to "attempt to
.....ensure the health, safety, or welfare of a domestic violence
victim or his or her child" (Labor Code Section 230).
A critical area for victims
of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse that has been left ignored
by legislators this year and in year's past is the District Attorney's
absolute power to refuse to file charges no matter how solid the
evidence. Even if a district attorney refuses to file charges on
a whole crime category, there is no legal remedy for victims.
This unrestricted prosecutorial
discretion is particularly dangerous for women in Sonoma County
where District Attorney Mike's Mullins' rate of conviction on domestic
violence is one of the
lowest in the State of California, and where he systematically under
charges .cases of violence against women and children.
For example, at this
writing, we at Women's Justice Center currently have a case of three
days of spousal rape, sodomy, and beatings which the District Attorney
has filed only as misdemeanor domestic violence. The detective in
the case states there is ample evidence to file multiple felonies.
In another case in which a woman was beaten to the point of a fractured
skull the District Attorney refused to file at all for five months
until one day the perpetrator went out and committed another assault
with a deadly weapon on another victim; and another case of spousal
rape in which the District Attorney and Cloverdale Police fought
for five months over who should pay for the translating of key evidence.
Sadly, those are just a few of many examples.
Not only are all women
put in direct and great danger by the absence of any legislative
check on the District Attorney's denial of justice to women, but
the District Attorney's refusal to file proper charges on these
cases also suffocates and discourages police efforts. We need to
work with our legislators to give them the fortitude to put restrictions
on District Attorney's discretion now.