Skip to comments.Maine law allows police to arrest victims to make sure they testify
Posted on 09/26/2013 9:09:09 AM PDT by Altariel
Maine law allows police to arrest victims to make sure they testify
CHELSEA, ME A battered woman was arrested by police in an effort to force her to testify against her abuser. She was detained without charges, locked in a cage, and a bail was set. The startling practice of arresting the victim is actually legal in Maine, thanks to a seldom used statute.
Jessica Ruiz, 35, was the alleged victim of domestic violence at the hands of 45-year-old Robert Robinson, Jr., in an April incident. On September 17, police arrested Ruiz to make sure she testified against Robinson.
They parked down the street, they pounded on her door and they arrested her, explained Lisa Whittier, Ruizs appointed lawyer, according to the Kennebec Journal.
Ruiz was taken to jail, subjected to a warrantless pat-down search, locked in a cage with a bail set at $5,000. She was locked up without charges, with two other women, for 17 hours.
While she was detained, officers served Ruiz with two subpoenas, ordering her to come to two separate trials of Robert Robinson on domestic violence and witness tampering.
Whittier called the incident outrageous conduct on the part of the state.
Maeghan Maloney, district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties, was elected last year after campaigning on a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence. She defended her decision to arrest the victim, saying I would rather have to explain why she was arrested than why she was dead.
I know theres a lot of people who disagree with it, but I dont know how else to keep the victim safe other than to take every step that I possibly can to prosecute it, Maloney said to WMTW.
But Maloneys apparent concern for Ruizs well-being did not placate the distraught victim or civil libertarians. Zachary Heiden, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, was shocked at the arrest, remarking, If the concern was for the witness safety, it seems there should be other ways of keeping her safe.
The practice appears to be legal in Maine, under Title 15 §1104, regarding Material Witnesses.
If it appears by affidavit that the testimony of a person is material in any criminal proceeding and if it is shown that it may become impracticable to secure the presence of that person by subpoena, the court may order the arrest of that person and may require that person to give bail for that persons appearance as a witness
The feigned concern for Ruizs safety might have been a excuse all along. Robinson was already incarcerated, has a long criminal history, and was facing multiple charges.
Theres no possibility that Mr. Robinson could have gotten out of jail, said Lisa Whittier. Hes being held on a probation hold and hes being held on another charge, so they were not protecting her safety.
She has never said she wouldnt testify, explained Whittier. She was always willing to testify and she would have honored a subpoena, had she been served a subpoena.
Even Robinsons lawyer stuck up for Ruiz. William Baghdoyan, who represents Robinson, assured reporters that Ruizs testimony was not the only thing keeping Robinson incarcerated. If the domestic-violence charges disappeared, hes not going anywhere, Baghdoyan said. Hes not a danger to anyone. He will continue to remain incarcerated.
My interest in this is professional, as a former prosecutor and a member of the Maine bar, Baghdoyan continued. Shes gone through unnecessary trauma. She is a very nice young woman, and she has been treated shabbily.
Witness safety can be a real concern in cases like these. But there are other, more appropriate methods of protection. Slapping a traumatized victim in handcuffs and then into a jail cell is not an appropriate act of compassion. It is emotionally stressful, damages the arrestees reputation, interferes with their job and family life, among other inconveniences that come with being involuntarily locked in a cage.
Maine residents should tell their state representatives that Title 15 §1104 needs to be repealed. It is inexcusable to treat victims this way.
Whatever happened to a subpoena?
So the witness is arrested to force her to testify in a witness tampering case? Will she be beaten for testifying in a way the state isn't satisfied with?
I’m sure that’s coming, if it hasn’t already.
Subpoena? Subpoena? We don’t need no stinkin subpoena.
They took this drastic measure in an attempt to save her life - and not have her end up just another statistic.
Drastic? yes? Strictly legally speaking, overboard? Yes.
But her testimony will put this cretin behind bars where he can't kill HER - or OTHERS.
(How many of you, if she didn't testify, and he then killed her and others, would be castigating and blaming the judge and others for the consequent crimes?)
Whenever anybody runs a "zero tolerance" campaign, they need to be laughed off the stage as having "zero intelligence."
Better an innocent woman imprisoned than a guilty man go free, or something like that I guess. Once we’re all in jail, crime statistics will be fantastic!
The attorney for the Defendant says he would still be in jail even without the abuse case this gal got locked up for. He has more “issues.”
This is about “zero tolerance.” What they aren’t tolerating is a victim who may not help them incarcerate somebody. The DA’s statement about wanting the vic to testify, not dead, is 100% pure hyperbole designed to feed the lust of the Low Information Voters who elected her, and will elect her again.
Oww my eyes! Please warn when posting graphic content.
The problem was that she was intimidated, threatened and frightented to death of being killed is she testified - but the conundrum was that, if she DIDN'T testify, the monster would be set free and she WOULD end up dead.
Do you have familiarity about this case, beyond what the article in the OP says? Or are you inserting your personal opinion as fact?
Sorry. You are, of course, correct. I should have substituted that picture I saw posted earlier of the baboon grabbing a reporters boob and said the DA looks like that baboon.
The only way you're going to get the straight facts is to check the pleadings, which we don't have. But it is certainly possible that the prosecutor was trying to protect the victim.
If I had a dollar for every domestic violence victim who refused to press charges and wound up dead . . . they refuse to testify for a lot of different reasons - frequently they are not rational about their situation, or they are afraid of the partner. Sometimes, victims try to extricate themselves from the situation on their own and wind up 'setting the guy off'.
Just because other charges have been made means little. The guy could make bail, then go home and kill the victim because he blamed her for his problems. I've seen it happen.
If I had a dollar for every domestic violence victim who refused to press charges and wound up dead
We’ll see a lot more people putting up signs, “Warning: We don’t call 911” or simply refusing to report crimes at all.
They could really use such a law in states with inner-city war zones and a “stop snitchin’” culture.
So you believe that it is better for The State to incarcerate you, depriving you of your rights, than for them to not do so?
The prosecutor is between a rock and a hard place. Try to help someone who is really not in her right mind (the way these silly women moan, "Oh, but I luvvvvv him!" while they are black and blue with broken bones, makes you want to slap them silly until you realize that they really are not sane) and the cop-haters launch on you. Let them refuse to press charges, the violence escalates until they die, and then the law-and-orders launch on you for failing to protect the victim.
It is absolutely possible for a judge to hold a witness in contempt for refusing to testify, whereupon they wind up . . . in jail. This appears to be the same destination for the same reason, but by a statutory route.
If there's a problem with the law, the legislature needs to address it. But I don't think we're getting the whole story here.
Such a person has made a false report of a crime (a felony in many states) or is now attempting to compound a felony.
Unfortunately many victims of abuse rightly distrust the justice system because it has NOT protected victims in the past. And the perps *always* blame the victim for calling the cops, and escalate the abuse. So it never ends well, and there's plenty of blame to go around.
As I said before, we don't know all the facts here, but if she made the initial complaint, she is hardly an innocent victim of State overreaching.
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