Judge Jackson Lambasts New Domestic Violence Law

Posted on Aug 15, 2014 in Courts, Criminal Defense, Local Issues

Photo courtesy of www.joeylehrman.net

Photo courtesy of www.joeylehrman.net

Judge Bonnie Jackson of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge stated in court that a new domestic violence law, referred to as “Gwen’s Law”, needs to be challenged. The new law differs from the old in that it institutes a “cooling-off period”, meaning the defendant will spend at least 5 days before a bail hearing can be set. At this hearing the judge reviews the case and can provide stricter bail requirements or deny bail entirely if the defendant’s holds an immediate threat to the alleged victim.

In most cases, bail is set based on criminal history and the current criminal charges faced by a defendant. “Gwen’s Law” for domestic violence cases, which went into effect August 1st, required a full hearing complete with witnesses and arguments by the defense, in addition to having the initial report turned over to the prosecutor by the arresting agency.

In many cases, this is where the problem lies, as many public defenders’ offices do not have the personnel to provide attorneys for such extensive hearings in such a short period of time. Often the completed initial report by the arresting agency is not available for the bail hearing, and many foresee this will be a problem with the new law, meaning the bail hearings will have to be reset for later dates, resulting in longer time spent in jail following an arrest.

Mike Mitchell, the chief public defender for East Baton Rouge Parish, expressed concerns that his already short-staffed office would have issues with providing lawyers for these defendants. Mitchell said, “I think the (new) statue is fraught with due process and equal protection problems.”

The law is nicknamed “Gwen’s Law” after Gwen Salley of DeSoto Parish, who was murdered by her husband while out on bail for a domestic abuse charge. Louisiana ranks second in the nation for homicides linked to domestic abuse violence.

If you or someone you know is arrested for domestic violence in the Greater New Orleans area, please give Bloom Legal a call at 504-599-9997 or email us at info@bloomlegal.com for a consultation.

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