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POW! Taking A Hit At Domestic Violence

His 63 year old wife, Suzanne, the target of the assault, was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed between 125 and 130 pounds. She was a featherweight.

They had married one short year earlier, each for the second time. At the trial, Suzanne described her marriage as being one in which she was ignored by Kevin and left out. She described Kevin as cold, unresponsive and at times aggressive.

Kevin described the relationship as a marriage where Suzanne was constantly jealous. She did not want him to meet or receive telephone calls from female clients or interact with other women.

The judge hearing the case found that as time went on Suzanne felt more and more ignored by her husband and less and less a part of his family. The judge also found that Suzanne acted jealously to Kevin's interaction with other women which led to disagreement, but that Kevin did not handle the situation with a great deal of sensitivity or understanding - at times excluding or ignoring Suzanne who desperately wanted his love and attention.

The unhappy marriage came to a tumultuous end on August 22, 2007, when, after a running argument, and some shouting, pushing and shoving between the two of them, Kevin tossed Suzanne out the front door and down the sidewalk seriously fracturing her right wrist, which required surgery and the insertion of screws and a metal plate.

"This violence", the Judge said, "was perpetuated by an individual (Kevin) she (Suzanne) should have been able to trust and rely upon."

After the assault, Suzanne also suffered from significant depression, to some extent as a result of the violence inflicted on her by Kevin.

There were two trials. The first was a criminal trial. Kevin was charged with assault causing bodily harm. In the criminal case he was acquitted.

The second trial was a civil trial. It dealt with the usual claims under the Family Law Act, including spousal support and division of property. It also dealt with Suzanne's claim for damages for the intentional infliction of physical and emotional harm inflicted upon Suzanne, by Kevin.

Hold on a second. If Kevin got off the criminal charge, how could Suzanne claim any injuries to her caused by Kevin?

This is possibly the same question O.J. Simpson asked after he was successfully sued for the wrongful death of his wife, Nicole.

The answer to this question is fairly simple. In a criminal trial, because, in the end, an accused person could go to jail (have his or her freedom taken away), the proof required to convict is very high. The judge or jury must be certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that the Accused did the illegal act. If there is any reasonable doubt at all, the accused must be set free. The theory is that society would rather have a guilty person walking free, than have an innocent person behind bars.

In a civil trial, like the case between Suzanne and Kevin, the Judge only had to find, on a balance of probabilities, that it was more likely than not Kevin assaulted Suzanne. And that is exactly what the judge did find - that Kevin "...either pushed or threw [Suzanne] out of the house...thereby causing a severe fracture to her right wrist".

The point is, just because you're married doesn't give you the right to hit, push or even threaten your spouse. If you do, you could face both criminal and civil legal action.

In this case, in addition to having to write a cheque for property claims and spousal support, Kevin also had to come up with more than $90,000 to pay Suzanne for her claims stemming from his assault.

At least in one way, the featherweight got her licks in on the heavyweight.

Lessons to be learned:

1) Marriage is not a special environment in which violence, either physical or psychological is acceptable. Abuse is abuse, in or out of marriage or in any relationship.

2) A good lawyer can often offset the difference between a featherweight and a heavyweight.

The Ross firm has skilled lawyers who concentrate their work in the area of family law as well as criminal law. The Ross Firm lawyers have the expertise needed to guide you successfully through family law and criminal law cases.

If you need legal help in these or other areas of law:

Give us a call.

Talk to us.

We can help.

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