Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

April 18, 2014

SB138 could level the playing field for victims

GREENSBURG — For New Directions Domestic Abuse Services Center Executive Director Diane Moore, the recent signing of Senate Bill 138 into law by Governor Mike Pence is something akin to a Godsend.

According to the 2014 Indiana General Assembly website (http://iga.in.gov), SB138 “provides that a court may allow a victim advocate to attend a civil proceeding and confer with a victim as necessary. Specifies that a victim advocate is not considered to be practicing law when performing certain services.”

To illustrate how SB138 will help transform the ways New Directions and indeed, the ways other domestic abuse centers and shelters around the state assist clients, Moore told the Daily News about a hearing she attended last month, not long before Pence signed SB138 into law.

The executive director went to court in support of a Decatur County woman attempting to get a temporary protective order reclassified as permanent. A funny thing happened in court that day, though: The alleged abuser brought a lawyer.

The victim, as is usually the case, couldn’t afford a lawyer and so had no representation – no one to speak on her behalf – in court.

According to Moore, it’s unusual for EITHER side to bring a lawyer to a protective order hearing, but the alleged abuser in this case had the financial means and was determined to see the protective order rescinded.

As Moore sat in court, mortified, that’s precisely what happened.

The executive director characterized the proceedings that played out that day as a classic case of the “revictimization” of someone who’s suffered domestic violence.

The victim in the case alleged that the abuser had thrown pieces of furniture at her. The assailant’s lawyer, however, presented several pictures of the furniture allegedly used in the attack, showing no damage to the items in question. The lawyer passed those pictures around, repeatedly requiring the victim to view them and then explain why, if her allegations were true, there was no discernable damage.

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