Determined whether a family court judge erred in refusing to consider whether a protective order could exclude a batterer from a home.
Legal Momentum joined eleven other local and national domestic violence groups in an amicus brief filed on behalf of a deaf battered woman who sought a protective order excluding her abusive husband and son from the marital home. The woman had fled from their home to live with her daughter in order to escape her husband's violence. The family court judge refused even to consider whether the order could exclude the batterer from the home. In May 1999, in a unanimous four-judge opinion, the New York Appellate Division reversed the lower court ruling, emphasizing that to allow the batterer to stay in the home when the victim had been forced to flee due to his violence would "reward the worst of abusers." The court remanded the case for a rehearing before a different judge.
Our amicus brief focused on the need for courts to use all the legal tools at their disposal to protect domestic violence victims. It presented evidence of the ways in which domestic violence frequently leads to homelessness, and cited social science and scholarly materials to demonstrate how orders excluding batterers from marital homes can help prevent battered women from becoming homeless. On remand, after a full trial, the husband and son were convicted of numerous family offenses, and were ordered to leave the home.