Articles Posted in New York City

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On January 15, 1993 a man and a woman were married in a civil ceremony in Albania. Several years ago, they moved to Brooklyn, New York. In 2005, the parents and their five children went to visit their family in Albania. The wife is a stay at home mother who does not speak English. The husband is a businessman of questionable veracity. He has reported his income in three different places, three different ways. He has obviously grossly under estimated his income each time. When the husband left Albania to return to the US, he left his wife and children with his parents.

Two years later, his wife took the youngest child and went to her parent’s house. Before long, they discovered that because the children are American citizens that they would have to get divorced in Brooklyn. Eventually, the entire family made their way back to the US. The father and the oldest child live in the marital home, an apartment in Brooklyn. The mother and the four youngest children reside in a shelter.

The mother contends that she suffered years of domestic violence at the hands of her husband and only barely escaped to the battered women’s shelter in New York. The husband filed for divorce stating that she abandoned him. He claims that she failed to have sexual relations with him a couple of years ago.

This court finds that the husband in this case has a much more probably future since he is a construction worker, supervisor, and an owner of a business. The wife, on the other side of that coin, is middle aged woman who has always been a stay at home mother and who does not speak English. The wife has never worked out side of the home and has been a victim of domestic violence.

The father is granted his divorce, but the wife is granted custody of the children. There will be a later hearing to determine alimony and child support payments if any.

In many cases, it is difficult for a person to understand that incidents that occur within the realm of domestic violence constitute highly volatile circumstances. A parent who threatens to kill the other parent is in effect neglecting the mental wellbeing of the child. Any act of outright domestic violence, hitting, slapping, pinching, verbal abuse, all constitute a criminal act. If they are done in front of a child then it constitutes neglect. It was not determined in this case, where the children were except that they were clearly somewhere in the residence when the police arrived to work the crime scene in that the investigator had to find suitable placement for the children before taking the wife to the police station. This leaves open the question of neglect as it relates to the wife and husband and the children. Except that in 1981 the laws of child neglect did not include any mention of domestic violence.
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On April 18, 2007, police responded to a home in Queens, New York. What they found there was a horror. Four bodies were found dead in the home. One was an elderly woman. A second was the companion of the woman. The third was a home health care worker assigned to the woman. The fourth was the twenty year old son of the woman, he had killed himself. Evidence at the scene revealed that he had first killed his mother, then her companion and the home health care worker, and then he had killed himself. The woman was survived by another younger son who had not yet reached the age of consent.

In May of 2008, the surviving son filed a complaint alleging wrongful death in the case of his mother. It also alleged infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision and gross negligence on behalf of the New York City Police Department. By May 20th the court had denied all of the child’s claims, which were made through his father, on the grounds that the time limit to file such claims had expired. The only remaining claim is that of criminal wrongful death.

The child and his father who petitioned for him submitted documents that they had obtained pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law. They maintain that these documents demonstrated that there was “clear supervisory negligence and negligence-per se-of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act-imputing liability to the (New York City Police Department) and breaching the duty of care to the (mother) and her infant son,(who filed the petition).”

The child and his father maintain that since there was a history of domestic violence between the child’s mother and her older son, which the New York City Police Department, failed to protect the mother and the other persons in the home adequately from the older son. They contend that this failure to protect directly resulted in the murder of the mother and the other persons in the home. The records show that there were nine incidents at the residence of the mother in the year (365 days) preceding her death. Three of these calls were related to domestic violence. In order for the police department to hold any kind of liability as it regards to the fatalities in this case, the person making the claim, in this case the child, must prove that a “special relationship” existed between the deceased mother and the government entity. “The elements of this ‘special relationship’ are: (1) an assumption by the municipality, through promises or actions, of an affirmative duty to act on behalf of the party who was injured; (2) knowledge on the part of the municipality’s agents that inaction could lead to harm; (3) some form of direct contact between the municipality’s agents and the injured party; and (4) that party’s justifiable reliance on the municipality’s affirmative undertaking.” (Cuffy v. City of New York, supra).The child’s petition argues that in this case, the “special relationship” either existed or that it should have existed and that the New York Police Department failed to establish that relationship.

Basically, the petition states that the Domestic Violence Prevention Act and the New York Police Department protocols required that officers who are respondents of domestic violence calls are required to establish a relationship with the victims of domestic violence. They maintain that this relationship was not established with the deceased mother and might have prevented her death.

Evidence that was presented in this case showed that in the three domestic violence incidents that were reported to police in the year preceding the victim’s death, demonstrated that the victim had described the incidents as verbal disputes only. There was only one incident, the last one that escalated into a physical confrontation and that was relatively minor in that the older son was accused of taking the mother’s phone away from her. None of the incidents occurred in the presence of a police officer and were only related to the officers upon their arrival. Two days before the deaths, the incident was reported by the statement of the deceased that stated, “I have a verbal dispute with my son which escalated to him restelling me for my phone. He threatened that if I call the police I will see what will happen.” (Sic.) There was no protection order in affect and no “stay away order” in fact; there was no court orders of any kind. The first time that the court looked at this case, the motions was denied. The child and his father appealed the decision and argued that they obtained “new” evidence that supported their first contention. The city disagreed. They felt that the police reports that the claimants are referring to were in existence at the time that the first petition was filed and does not constitute “new” evidence at all. They stated that regardless of the age of the child, the father of the child was the one presenting the petition for the child and there was no reason for him to have not obtained this information from the records in time to submit them to the court the first time.

The court ordered that because the child is young, and the child had to rely on his father to file for him, and they are not allowed access to certain necessary documents without court action, that the child’s request to renew the application for an order from the court for a late notice of claim is granted. He will be allowed access to all documents necessary to find facts to support or disport his claim.

In many cases, it is difficult for a person to understand that incidents that occur within hearing of a child constitute neglect. A parent who threatens to kill the other parent is in effect neglecting the mental wellbeing of the child. Any act of outright domestic violence, hitting, slapping, pinching, verbal abuse, all constitute a criminal act. If they are done in front of a child then it constitutes neglect.
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In a classic case of domestic violence, the victim, usually the wife of the perpetrator, is afraid of the consequences when she decides to file a case against her husband and her husband is convicted.

A 35-year old man was charged with the crimes of assault and coercion. According to sources, the charge arises out of an incident that occurred at dawn one July day. The sources said that the husband punched his wife in the ribs causing laceration to her spleen and requiring hospitalization in intensive care and medical treatment. The wife added that her husband took her cell phone and tore the telephone line for her cordless phone off the wall to prevent her from calling 911.

In this case, the district attorney responsible for the case found that the charges against the husband should be reduced to a misdemeanor felony. There were no claims that the felony complaints were defective but the District Attorney determined that it would not be in the interest of justice or the best interest of the family to proceed with felony prosecutions.

The District Attorney pointed out that the husband does not have a “significant criminal history.” The District Attorney added that the wife wants her husband to address his anger issues through counseling,” and that a felony conviction could prevent the husband from supporting his family,” that the wife feels her husband’s criminal conduct was an isolated incident and she has accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct.” But, the court found these findings to be unsupported by the wife’s statements.

The court held that it is not uncommon in domestic violence cases for the perpetrator and the victim to have children together, or to be concerned about the impact of a felony conviction upon their finances and personal relationship. In situations like these, victims are often unwilling to pursue criminal charges. That reluctance may indicate the controlling or manipulative behaviors on the part of an abusive partner and the victim’s minimization of abuse, the court said.

Also, the fact that the husband’s ability to earn income may be impaired by his conviction of a felony crime is no grounds for reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor, the court held.
The court pointed out that there is no indication that the husband’s conviction of a misdemeanor crime will have any less impact on his ability to earn income to support his family than would result from a felony conviction. Although loss of employment following a criminal conviction is a well-recognized collateral consequence, a defendant’s obligation to support his children is unabated thereby. Also, services are available to provide financial assistance to a victim and her/his children. Moreover, New York law generally prohibits discrimination in employment against persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses, thereby significantly mitigating the effects of a felony or misdemeanor conviction upon a defendant’s subsequent employment.
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A government agency filed a complaint against a couple for negligence towards their three children. Sources found that the parents impaired or placed their children in the danger of being mentally or emotionally impaired as a result of the children’s exposure to domestic violence. The parents were found to have continuously engaged in domestic violence against each other in the presence of their children over the 10-year period of their marriage.

Friends, neighbors and police officers testified that the parents kick, beat and shout obscenities at each other in front of the children. Following several of these abusive incidents, caseworkers were called in to assist the children. The caseworkers testified to the fear and distress the children were experiencing as a result of their exposure to these altercations.

The family was evaluated in 1981 at a mental health clinic in connection with behavioral problems of their oldest child, Theresa, then age six. The mental health professional who assessed the child said the source of her anxiety is marital conflict and the child’s resulting peace maker role. Theresa had been enuretic off and on and her enuresis coincides with family turmoil. Both parents admitted that Theresa was affected by their arguments which have often led to physical attack.

In 1986, the children were seen by a child protective caseworker while temporarily in the care of a maternal aunt after a particularly violent episode. Theresa was rebellious and defiant and still enuretic at age 11. Her brother, Thomas, was withdrawn. The caseworker said the children were upset and depressed by the domestic violence.

In 1988, the children were counseled on several occasions by a therapist. As to the child Joseph, who was acting out both violently and sexually, the therapist stated that Joseph’s behavior was at least partly attributable to the domestic violence in the household.

The inference of a causal relationship between the parents’ conduct and the impaired condition of the children is also supported by the testimony of a clinical psychologist who was a specialist in studying children witnesses of domestic violence. While the psychologist testified without ever having examined the children, the hypothetical question he answered was based upon his reading of the pertinent records and case history of the family. He testified that the emotional and behavioral problems of respondents’ children were consistent with his general findings in his studies of the effects upon children of witnessing domestic violence. Although he conceded that other factors could have contributed to the condition of the children, he stated unequivocally that a causal relationship between their problems and witnessing parental violence “is certainly very consistent and very likely”.

Based on the testimonies, the court concluded that the children’s serious pathology was at least partially due to their apparently regular and continuous exposure to extremely violent conduct between respondents.
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Children often become the direct victims of domestic violence. Oftentimes, being exposed to domestic violence leads to the child being mentally or emotionally impaired. Oftentimes, in a sad twist of fate, an act of reckless violence results to the death of an innocent child.

In this case, a government agency filed a negligence case against a mother of two minors. The two children were Ravern H., aged 18 months, and Kelly S. Ravern, aged six weeks. The government agency found that the children are neglected children and removed them from the mother’s care for a period of 12 months.

According to sources, the mother has a boyfriend whom she continually engages in a fight. These fights would usually turn violent, with the boyfriend or the mother losing their tempers.

The government agency said that at the time of the incident, the mother had a fight with her boyfriend. The evidence, according to the government agency, establishes that while the mother was holding the child, her boyfriend chased her and closed her hand in the bedroom door, breaking her finger, and that, while she was attempting to leave the apartment with the child, her boyfriend picked her up by her head and bit her face, and then pushed her over onto the child.

The mother said she used a love seat pushed against the wall as a makeshift crib for Ravern. The mother testified that she found her first born child dead the following morning. The child was between the love seat and the wall. According to the government agency, it was the mother’s fault that the child died. The government agency said that while the mother had a fight with her boyfriend, her boyfriend pushed her and she fell on the child.

The court held that to support a finding of neglect petitioner must prove both parental misconduct and harm or potential harm to the child by a preponderance of the evidence. With respect to this incident, the court concluded that the government agency has established two facts only: that the mother has been the victim of domestic violence, and that the children have been exposed to that violence, and therefore failed to establish that respondent is responsible for neglect. The court found that the government agency was not able to prove that the mother was unwilling to change her conduct and that she willingly exposed her children to acts of domestic assault.

The court did not give credence to the government agency’s testimony. Instead, the court relied on the extensive autopsy report, wherein the cause of death was determined to be sudden infant death syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, i.e., the sudden death of an apparently healthy infant that remains unexplained after all other causes, including suffocation, are ruled out.
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