Justice and Spousal Abuse

I was outraged to read that District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo dismissed the protective order that Yvette Cade had obtained against her estranged husband, Roger B. Hargrave, despite Cade's reports that he had repeatedly violated the order. Now Cade lies in a hospital, suffering from severe burns. I can only hope that there will be an investigation into what happened in that courtroom Sept. 19 and that appropriate action will be taken against Palumbo.

This needs to be a wake-up call, not just to one judge but to the community as a whole. Let's take this opportunity -- during Domestic Violence Awareness Month -- to understand that not nearly enough is being done to combat this vicious social ill.

It might be that the fault lies not with Palumbo but rather with a system that did not properly train him to handle such cases. Someone who is well-trained in dealing with domestic violence cases might have found suspect Hargrave's professions of love for his wife and desire to seek marriage counseling with her -- or, at least, might have found them unavailing, given Hargrave's alleged violations of the protective order. Indeed, someone in Palumbo's position should not only have refused to lift the protective order, but he should have insisted upon further inquiry into Cade's allegations that Hargrave had violated it and, were they found to be true, imposed the appropriate sanctions upon Hargrave.

No person should have to live in fear for her life, and certainly no person should be turned away with such callous disregard when she asks for help -- especially considering that victims of domestic violence characteristically are reluctant to seek such help, given the likelihood that their actions will cause the perpetrator to escalate his violent behavior, something Palumbo also apparently did not know. As a member of the board of directors of Women Empowered Against Violence, I know that there are scores of well-trained people in the community dedicated to fighting domestic violence, but all the counseling, supportive services and pro bono legal representation that WEAVE and other organizations offer will be for naught if justice and safety stop at the courtroom door.

Thankful Vanderstar