The Charleston Taco Bell shooting last Saturday, which is detailed in the Charleston Daily Mail here, is not one that will likely fade from memory. The perpetrator of this crime, Desmond Clark, gives new meaning to the term “bad apple,” and he has indeed just about ruined the probation system and the domestic violence petition system – for everyone.
I was talking to a former prosecutor and legislator the other day who was up-in-arms about this. Defense attorneys now are going to have an extremely hard time getting probation for their clients, especially in those domestic-related cases, which oftentimes are the same cases that subside on the flimsiest of evidence.
And for those of us who practice divorce and family law, the times just got tougher. What magistrate is going to deny a protective order in any situation now? This legislator joked that in just about every ugly divorce he has seen, there are skid marks from the marital home to the magistrate court, where the first spouse there takes out a domestic violence petition against the other. Then, what family law judge is going to release or dismiss the protective order, despite the sufficiency of the evidence? The end result is that the loser of the race to magistrate court ends up getting ousted from their house/belongings/children until the divorce is finalized.
So, the legislature has realized this system of domestic violence petitions is broken and largely abused. But, what can they do about it? For every 999 times this system is abused and misused, there is some legitimate victim out there like this poor woman who was murdered in the Taco Bell. But then again, she had a protective order in effect at the time she was murdered, and it didn’t help her very much.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.