The Justice System and Domestic Violence: Engaging the Case but Divorcing the Victim

Introduction

Advocates for victims’ of domestic violence have made significant strides over the last forty years by forcing domestic violence to the forefront of our national consciousness and initiating a major transformation of the justice system’s response to family violence. An unofficial policy of nonfeasance has morphed into an official policy of engagement on all levels of the justice system. Today victims may seek civil protection orders from the courts to protect them from family abuse. When batterers violate those orders, courts can enforce the orders through civil or criminal contempt, and prosecutors’ offices have the authority to prosecute violations. Statutes encourage and even require police officers to arrest suspects who appear to have committed acts of domestic violence. Batterers can be and are prosecuted for criminal acts of violence against intimate partners.

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A deeply flawed eighty-six page legal memorandum revealed the rationale for the U.S. Justice Department’s March 2015 decision not to prosecute Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The Article rejects the Department’s contention that prosecution was not permitted by the governing