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108 Colum. L. Rev. 1181 (2008)
Denying Access to Justice: The Cost of Applying Chronic Nuisance Laws to Domestic Violence

handle is hein.journals/clr108 and id is 1201 raw text is: NOTES
Cari Fais
Chronic nuisance laws impose fines or other sanctions on property own-
ers based on the number of times police respond to the property. These ordi-
nances aim to recover the cost of what the government considers to be exces-
sive police service, and to encourage property owners to prevent criminal
activity from occurring on the premises. This Note argues that domestic vio-
lence calls for police service should not trigger liability under chronic nui-
sance laws. Applying chronic nuisance laws to victims of intimate partner
violence exacerbates the barriers that many victims already face in accessing
housing, and blames the victim for criminal activity that she cannot control.
Imposing sanctions that discourage domestic violence victims from calling
the police is also incompatible with other government policies that address
domestic violence, including mandatory arrest, evidence-based prosecution,
and the housing protections in the Violence Against Women Act. This Note
proposes several legal challenges to the application of chronic nuisance laws
in domestic violence cases. It also explores legislative reforms that would
protect victims' access to the police, while still allowing local governments to
target actual nuisance activity.
Laurie's ex-boyfriend appeared at her home, uninvited, to retrieve
some of his belongings. Once inside, he threw her to the ground and
began to strangle her. Laurie's daughter, in fear for her mother's safety,
called 911. The police responded and, despite the visible bruising
around Laurie's neck, failed to arrest her boyfriend or remove him from
the home. After the police left, Laurie's ex-boyfriend punched her in the
face and ripped her ear. This time Laurie called the police. During their
second response, the police informed Laurie, in front of the assailant,
that since this was her second call for police service, a third call to the
police would result in eviction from her apartment.'
Laurie's landlord did not want to evict her and her children and
considered Laurie to be a desirable tenant.2 Nonetheless, the law in
East Rochester states that upon the third call for police service, the town
1. Second Amended Complaint at 7-8, Grape v. Town/Village of East Rochester, No.
07 CV 6075 CJS (F) (W.D.N.Y. July 6, 2007).
2. Id. at 6.


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