Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Local artical for violence against women.
Ruling curbs Multnomah County domestic violence program
by Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian
Monday September 29, 2008, 8:54 PM
Subpoenas landed on the desks of several domestic violence victims' advocates this summer, ordering them to show up in Multnomah County Circuit Court with files containing victims' statements against alleged attackers in two pending cases.
The subpoenas sent shock waves through the county's nationally recognized domestic violence program, prompting a special team of police, prosecutors, parole officers and advocates who work together to intervene in high-risk cases to stop accepting new ones. The Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team came to a screeching halt.
"We didn't know what to tell victims. We were unable to say 'Trust us, your information would remain confidential.' So we stopped," said Chiquita Rollins, the county's domestic violence coordinator.
Advocates argued that divulging confidential information about victims or subpoenaing records would have a "substantial chilling effect" on victims. Rollins cautioned that offenders could use information gleaned from an advocate's file to intimidate victims and keep them from testifying.
Defense lawyers countered they had the right to review victims' statements before trial. In an unusual circumstance, the Multnomah County district attorneys sided with the defense. Prosecutors demanded that the advocates' material be turned over to the defense as part of pretrial discovery.
"This was a difficult situation for us, because the advocates really are our partners in this program," said Darian Stanford, a Multnomah County deputy district attorney. "But the law is clear. We're obliged to follow the U.S. Constitution and Oregon law."
Post done by Andres Jaime Estrada.