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Family Court of Dutchess Count…cont

1 The background of this supplemental proceeding is as follows: on January 15, 1993, on consent, petitioner wife obtained a final order of protection for one year directing that respondent shall not assault, menace, harass or recklessly endanger petitioner and the children and shall stay away from petitioner’s home. A supplemental petition was filed February 8, 1993, alleging violation in that, inter alia, respondent entered petitioner’s home on February 6, 1993. On February 9, 1993, the parties appeared and counsel were appointed to petitioner and respondent. A short evaluation of respondent was conducted by the Mental Health Services. It was reported that respondent possibly suffered from a post-traumatic stress disorder and was experiencing severe depression and anxiety and had a history of two prior psychiatric hospitalizations. The court remanded respondent to Elmhurst General Hospital for a full evaluation with a direction that respondent be released to court only. On February 10, 1993, respondent was produced together with a letter from Elmhurst General Hospital subscribed by Dr. Laurence Schiff, M.D. psychiatry, dated February 10, 1993 certifying that respondent was evaluated and found not to suffer from “any major mental illness, and does not present any acute evidence of homicidality or suicidality at this time.” Respondent was released to his own recognizance.

Subsequently the court was advised that petitioner had proceeded in Criminal Court, Nassau County, and that respondent was sentenced to one hundred and eighty days’ incarceration. Accordingly the supplemental petition dated February 8, 1993 was dismissed. On November 8, 1993, petitioner filed a second supplemental petition alleging that respondent on October 25, 1993, shortly after his release from incarceration, threatened to kill petitioner, that “on November 1, 1993, respondent climbed into petitioner’s window from the fire escape, but when petitioner’s 15-year-old son saw respondent entering the residence did chase respondent out of the residence with a cooking fork” and that “on November 3, 1993 at approximately 11:30 a.m. respondent followed petitioner when she dropped the child off at the child’s day care, and attempted to chase petitioner and when she called police respondent fled.” It is noted that the parties’ two children David then age 15 and Melissa then age 2 were covered by the order of protection. On November 15, 1993 after a hearing this court found beyond a reasonable doubt that respondent had violated the final order of protection as alleged. At that hearing the parties’ oldest child testified against the father. Based on the number of violations, their increasing severity, and mindful that respondent had already served a period of incarceration, in disposition of this supplemental petition, the court civilly committed the respondent for six months and in addition modified the final order of protection to continue for one year, effective November 15, 1993, with the further directions that respondent not interfere with petitioner’s custody of the children, remain away from petitioner and the children at all times, and not file or be the source of false allegations of neglect or abuse against the petitioner. Subsequently petitioner filed the third supplemental petition dated March 15, 1994.

2 Recently the legislature approved and the governor signed a bill on June 30, 1994 (L.1994, ch. 222) (S. 8642, A. 11992) entitled “the family protection and domestic violence intervention act of 1994”. The majority of the provisions of this act take effect January 1, 1995. Section 1 entitled “Legislative findings” states: “The legislature hereby finds and declares that there are few more prevalent or more serious problems confronting the families and households of New York than domestic violence. It is a crime which destroys the household as a place of safety, sanctuary, freedom and nurturing for all household members. We also know that this violence results in tremendous costs to our social services, legal, medical and criminal justice systems, as they are all confronted with its tragic aftermath.

Domestic violence affects people from every race, religion, ethnic, educational and socio-economic group. It is the single major cause of injury to women. More women are hurt from being beaten than are injured in auto accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
The corrosive effect of domestic violence is far reaching. The batterer’s violence injures children both directly and indirectly. Abuse of a parent is detrimental to children whether or not they are physically abused themselves. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to experience delayed development, feelings of fear, depression and helplessness and are more likely to become batterers themselves.

Too many of New York’s elderly residents have become the victims of their own family or household members, leaving these senior citizens without hope or meaningful legal redress.
A great deal of progress has been achieved in the effort to heighten public awareness about domestic violence and to provide services for affected family members. Dedicated individuals, shelter programs and advocacy organizations have been working successfully for years in order to provide refuge, counseling, legal relief and protection to victims of family violence. These efforts have also played a key role in bringing this issue into the open by helping individuals to survive domestic violence and work toward its prevention.

Fortunately, with this heightened awareness has come a considerable shift in the public understanding of, and perspective on, domestic violence. In recent years, for example, what was once largely considered a private matter has come to be more correctly regarded as criminal behavior.

To Be Cont…

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