Monday, June 25, 2012

A Difficult Job Done Well

Perhaps the most difficult case to win as a prosecutor is a domestic violence case where the victim refuses to cooperate.  If I had a nickel during my tenure as a prosecutor for every time a victim of domestic violence came to the office asking to drop charges, I would have retired 15 years ago.

It is rare that a prosecutor is able to go forward when the victim refuses to cooperate.  Many refusals are due to fear by the victim of the defendant.  This make it even more sad.  That is why I found a recent press release from the Ulster District Attorney's Office very satisfying.  DA Carnright's Office had an extremely difficult case, but they ended it with a conviction.  The pres is release read as follows:

"Raymond Ducker, Jr., pled guilty to Stalking in the first degree and Criminal Contempt in the first degree on June 15, 2012 before Ulster County Court Judge Donald A. Williams.  Ducker, age 29, from Ellenville, New York had been indicted by the Ulster County Grand Jury for multiple counts of domestic violence against his 19 year old live-in girlfriend.  The case was investigated by Village of Ellenville Police Chief Philip Mattracion with the assistance of two Assistant District Attorneys, Elizabeth A. Culmone and Lisa Godfrey of the Ulster County District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau.
Initially, the investigation was hampered by the fact that the victim did not cooperate.  The investigation team reviewed prior domestic violence incidences, 911 calls and interviewed neighbors from the previous incidences.  The investigation revealed that the victim had been repeatedly subjected to domestic violence by the defendant.  A search warrant was used to gain access to the couple’s apartment. Samples were obtained of blood spatter and photographs of the walls, floor and furniture were taken consistent with the allegations of domestic violence.  In addition, a warrant was utilized to photograph the victim’s injuries. 
Based upon the evidence of repeated abuse, the District Attorney’s Office, against the victim’s wishes, asked the lower court arraigning judge to issue a stay away order of protection.  However, the judge declined to do so.  Presentation to the Grand Jury was accelerated and the Grand Jury returned their first indictment against the defendant within a week.  Upon arraignment in County Court on that indictment, Judge Williams remanded the defendant and granted the People’s application for a stay away order of protection.  Following that arraignment the defendant spoke with and wrote letters to the victim threatening her if she testified against him.  Those letters were later seized.  Based upon additional information obtained through the course of the investigation, the case was re-presented to the Grand Jury for reconsideration of additional charges.  The Grand Jury handed down a superseding indictment adding the Stalking in the first degree counts as well as Assault and Tampering with a Witness.  
The defendant is scheduled for sentencing on August 17, 2012."

Kudos for excellent work by the District Attorney's Office and the various police agencies involved.


Anonymous said...

Now try to get any help from the county when a Sheriff's deputy stops an elderly preson for driving with no license and registration, giving him no ticket and telling him instead to go home(no record of it because a ticket was never issues);can't get an order of protection even when he is stalking you, and both DSS and APS also fail to do their jobs. We have a county executive but that office is also apparently AWOL after being told this story and said they would return some report on what they are doing but never do . I have to throw my hands into the air--this is what they are paid to do but no result. It's absurd!! If I had a dime for every lame-brained nitwit I've talked to I could retire too on this!!

Richard T. Cahill Jr. said...


I truly have no idea what you are talking about.