Meet the Judge Who Jailed a Domestic Abuse Victim For Not Testifying Against Her Abuser
A Florida judge is under fire for her treatment of an emotionally rattled victim of domestic abuse after video of the hearing was released to the public.
Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins oversaw the contempt of court hearing, during which the victim had to demonstrate an adequate reason for not appearing in court to testify against her alleged abuser. Throughout the nearly six-minute video, Collins maintains a straightforward manner of discussion. The defendant, meanwhile, loses her calm during the hearing and is mostly unable to answer the judge’s questions in a satisfactory manner.
“You need to tell the court why I should not hold you in contempt of court,” said Collins. “I can sentence you to jail.”
When the woman mentioned her anxiety about the testimony, which would put her face-to-face with her abuser, Collins interrupted: “You think you’re going to have anxiety now? You haven’t even seen anxiety.”
Back in April, the woman called the police following a violent altercation with the father of her child. The man allegedly choked her and threatened her with a kitchen knife. He was charged with simple battery and spent 16 days in jail, but when his trial date arrived, the victim was nowhere to be found. Hence the contempt of court hearing pictured above.
Jeanne Gold, CEO of the SafeHouse organization, told WTFV that Judge Collins’ actions were “appalling” and “horrible.” She also expressed her worry that the judge’s shaming of the victim in court could possibly discourage her from ever calling the police again.
“She’ll never call again. Look what happened to her. She could be lying, broken in a ditch somewhere, and she would probably not call police because of what happened to her in this place.”
Being in contempt of court is a very serious legal matter, especially when the case at hand could determine whether or not an alleged abuser is guilty of the charges levied against him or her. However, berating an already traumatized victim of domestic abuse probably isn’t the best way to go about enforcing one’s participation in court testimony.
As WTFV’s legal analyst puts it, “Sometimes the judges, in the hast of trying to do their jobs, forget the big picture.”
Check out the clip above, via WTFV.
[Image via screengrab]
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