Family Violence

The technical legal question the Supreme Court will address in Kahler v. Kansas is whether the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments permit a state to abolish the insanity defense. In more colloquial terms, the question is whether states may abolish a defense to criminal liability that mental illness prevented a defendant from knowing his or her actions were wrong. Five state have done so—Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah.

James Kahler was sentenced to death for fatally shooting his wife, her grandmother, and his two daughters. Kahler presented the testimony of a forensic psychiatrist who stated that Kahler was suffering from severe major depression at the time of the crime and that “his capacity to manage his own behavior had been severely degraded so that he couldn't refrain from doing what he did.”

Michigan enacted domestic violence legislation May 3 that adds companion animals to personal protection orders, making it the latest state to acknowledge the role pets play in domestic violence situations. Currently, 29 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws with provisions that allow pets to be included in personal protection orders.

CSG Midwest

Hoping to better protect victims of stalking, sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes, legislators in Iowa and Minnesota adopted new “Safe at Home” laws this year. ...

Consider these statistics from the CDC’s first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released this week: “1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner while 1 in 7 men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.”

The 2010 survey is the first year of the survey and provides baseline data that will be used to track trends in sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence. It includes detailed state tables that give “lifetime estimates of the prevalence of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence.” Here is Suggested State Legislation on domestic violence.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act is based on Michigan law. This Act:
• allows a judge or district court magistrate to order a defendant charged with a crime involving domestic violence, to carry or wear a global positioning system (GPS) device as a condition of release;

Suggested State Legislation: This Act allows victims of domestic violence or a representative to create a substitute address for them if there is a good reason to believe the victim’s safety is at risk. The address will remain confidential and guarded from databases to ensure further safety of victims. These addresses can be used by the victim when interacting with any public agency, like school districts or the motor vehicle department. This helps ensure that an abuser is unable to track a victim through these agencies.