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58 U.S. Att'ys Bull. 2 (2010)
Domestic Violence Crimes in Indian Country

handle is hein.journals/usab58 and id is 142 raw text is: 

Domestic Violence Crimes in Indian


Margaret  S. Groban
Violence Against  Women  Act Specialist
Executive Office for United States Attorneys

Leslie A. Hagen
Native American  Issues Coordinator
Executive Office for United States Attorneys

I. Introduction

        It was after 1:00 a.m. on a cold December day in Michigan's Upper Peninsula when the victim,
Jane Doe, saw a truck pull into her driveway and then leave. The next thing she heard was a knock on her
front door. Because the door did not have a peephole, Jane cracked open the front door to see who was
knocking. At that point, the defendant, R.C., pushed his way inside the house. Jane and R.C. had an on
again, off again relationship and had a daughter together. Jane saw that R.C. was drunk. He was babbling
about the couple's daughter and Jane's apparent failure to return his telephone calls. Jane told R.C. to
leave the house. When he refused, she grabbed a cell phone, ran into the bathroom, and locked the door.
The defendant kicked the bathroom door in, grabbed the cell phone, and smashed it on the floor. Jane
yelled at her 8-year old son to run to a neighbor for help. After kicking in the bathroom door, R.C. threw
Jane to the floor, punched her in the mouth, and strangled her. Jane told the police that during the assault,
R.C. made several threatening statements to her.

        Responding officers observed that Jane had scratches to the right, front, and left sides of her neck,
scratches to the left side of her face above the eyebrow, swelling to the left side of her lower lip, and
scrapes on the front of her right knee. None of her injuries required medical treatment.

        During the course of the investigation, a neighbor was interviewed and told police that when
Jane's son pounded on her door he was screaming and crying. The boy was wearing only his underwear
and he told the neighbor that R.C. was choking his mother. The boy said he was afraid R.C. would find
him and kill him. The neighbor reported that R.C. called her house frequently trying to contact Jane.
Earlier on the day of the assault, R.C. phoned the neighbor's house and said that he was headed to the
reservation and that something was going to happen.

        At the time of the crime, Jane, a Native American, was living on land held in trust for the use of
the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Jane and R.C. had not lived together for at least 6 months
preceding the assault. In fact, R.C., a non-Indian, was living in Michigan's lower peninsula. Prior to the
December  incident, R.C. had been convicted three times for misdemeanor domestic violence offenses.
Jane was the victim in each case. All of these prior cases were prosecuted in state court and R.C. received
the maximum  possible penalty of 90 days in jail.

        Clearly, R.C. presented a significant safety risk to Jane and her children. Prior intervention efforts
and criminal prosecution seemingly provided no deterrent to his committing additional domestic violence
offenses. The Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case was interested in charging R.C. with
something other than a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, but was unsure of which path to take.



JULY 20 10

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