Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Judge Jerri Collins Analysis
Many cases are derailed because the victim is unwilling or incapable of testifying, or following through with her testimony. There are many reasons for this; few that I have encountered would I consider negligent and these had to do with finance. None of which I have encountered, however, would I consider criminal disobedience.
In interviewing both victims and perpetrators, Analytical Interviewing shows deception, veracity, and then shows the element of minimization so much so, that it becomes, the "expected" in analysis. It is rare to work a case that does not have minimization elements.
I have also found deception in victims' advocates, which do not help the victim. Far too many advocates write out or dictate the affidavit for the victim, employing Pinocchio thinking he will help the judge make the "right decision." I have watched women lose their children after letting the perpetrator back into the house (the expected) , forcing the judge, based upon the false affidavit to order the children removed for their own safety. The truth is always best, and even when it is in predominantly threat stage, judges can discern what serious threat looks like especially when appropriately and truthfully reported.
I also understand: It is difficult to prosecute without a victim's testimony. It is frustrating to attempt to save someone who is, statistically, likely to sabotage at least one rescue attempt. It is expected.
This judge sentenced a woman to 3 days in jail for contempt of court for failing to show up, which de-railing the system, harming the cause of justice. Was this why she gave out the sentence? Thus our analytical question:
Why did she do it?
Why did she send the victim, a mother of a baby, to three days in jail for disobeying the court order?
Her words reveal her motive.
Our words always reveal us.
The judge was angry that justice was derailed, but was it this anger that caused her to sentence the sobbing mother who's life has been destroyed by violence, to 3 days in jail?
The video is not easy to watch: video
Listen to her words:
The mother said, ""Your honor, I'm very sorry for not attending the last one," she said through tears. "I've been dealing with depression and just a lot personally since this happened. My anxiety is like, this is everyday for me."
Please note "depression" came first, "a lot personally" is next and "anxiety" is third.
Yet, please note that pronouns guide us:
1. First, that "depression" is introduced by itself, and
2. That " a "lot personally", is nondescript,
3. But with "anxiety" the subject uses the possessive pronoun, "my" in it.
This is to take ownership of anxiety. This is different than one who is suffering from anxiety, or one who is experiencing anxiety. This is to bring it to the point of "ownership" via the intuitive pronoun.
Next note that she uses the word "this is", with "this" being close and "is" be present tense. She used the word "like" to describe "her" anxiety and the word she chose to describe the anxiety she "owns" is "everyday"; which is to suggest that she experiences depression, likely in 'bouts', and she has some things she is "personally dealing with" but that anxiety is unrelenting. That is to say, she takes ownership of anxiety, because anxiety has taken ownership of her.
Her words tell us: it is acute.
This, of course, presumes that one is listening to what the subject is saying. If you listen to the judge's response, in what she says, and in what she does not say, you may conclude that the judge was, in fact, listening.
Now the judge:
"You think you're going to have anxiety now? You haven't even seen anxiety. We had a jury six people there ready to try Mr. Brennan who has a prior criminal history of domestic violence. You were required to be here by court order you disobey a court order knowing this was not going to turn out well for the state.. "
This is a question posed without waiting for response.
"You think you're going to have anxiety now? You haven't even seen anxiety."
This is to taunt the victim by comparing the anxiety of what she has gone through, with what she is about to face. This is personal language.
Did you note what is missing from the judge's words? The judge does not mention "depression" in her response. The judge did not mention "other things you are personally going through" but went right for the most vulnerable, personal point within the victim's own language. She heard exactly what was most pointed for the victim: anxiety. It is the only ailment or issue the judge used to reflect back.
The repetition of court order refers to herself, as judge, and an order she issued.
The results refer to the state and not to making the victim or future victims safe.
The judge did this for personal reasons: she could not bear being defied.
The judge used the victim's own language to acknowledge that she heard the victim, and now, literally, according to her words, sentenced the victim to suffer more of what she suffers from.
The victim took actual ownership of anxiety and it is the most acute suffering for her. Note no mention of physical injury or other trauma: whatever she has suffered has led to her to state of anxiety so acute that her language shows ownership. It is in this precise area that the judge targeted her vengeance.
The victim now has a criminal record and if she thought it was difficult to find a job in her situation before this, wait until she tries after.
I have worked with many victims and have persuaded some to testify, while agreeing with some others that it was too dangerous. Each case is different.
The victim derailed justice, which happens so often, it is "expected." We know this going into a case. We do not punish the victim for being terrified to testify. I have had some victims who simply could not be in the same room as the perpetrator without needing professional intervention. The fear and trauma can be that severe.
The victim learned not to cross this judge, and other victims take note as well.
The judge made this about her authority and need to be obeyed and not about justice, nor safety for citizen.
Her words gave her away.
There were times where my frustration was acute, especially when so many hours of work was put into a legal situation, including donation of money, donation of time by attorneys, advocates, professionals, and so on, but we always knew that there would be a chance that not only would the victim bail out, but the victim may even blame us.
This is part of the trauma that one experiences in violence in the home. It is heightened due to expectation of not only safety in the home, but of trust, rest, ease, comfort, sleep, and so on.
Interviewing the judge would likely give us the projected reason why she used such venomous language towards the victim.
That many will question her fitness for the bench is not unreasonable.
The judge perceived how severe the victim's anxiety was, by listening to her, and then sentenced her to an increased dosage of the same.
Judges with even minor experience in D/V cases know that victims do not always show up, testify and follow through. I have heard judges be firm with victims but in an encouraging manner, saying, "Make sure you keep your children safe..." and so on, while granting protection orders.