According to a report from KDVR television in Denver, Colorado, “almost half of all murders in Colorado are women killed by their husbands.”
One of the ways the courts can help protect women from further abuse is through the issuance of a protection order. Each morning courts across Colorado fill with domestic violence victims who seek protection orders. When those victims appear in front of one particular magistrate in Denver, however, there are more victims denied protection orders than when victims appear in front of other magistrates.
One victim said that she appeared in front of this magistrate because her ex-boyfriend threatened to “chop her up.” Even though the victim had a police officer listen to a voicemail in which her ex had left the threatening message, and this information was included in the police report, the magistrate refused to issue an order of protection. The victim in this case said she watched as six women went in front of the magistrate before her. All six were also denied protection orders.
According to news reports, the magistrates hear about the same number of requests for protection orders each year. There are usually three magistrates that hear applications for protection orders in Courtroom 170 in Denver, Colorado. The number of requests that are denied by this particular magistrate was roughly 36 percent in the last four months, while the other two have averaged 12 percent and 16 percent in the last two years.
The victim above had a strong enough case that the city attorney for Denver chose to accept it for criminal charges against her ex-boyfriend. The burden of proof needed for the city attorney to do so is for the prosecution prove the crime or crimes occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof needed to issue a protection is much less. Essentially, all that must be believed is that the victim in the case is in danger.
The magistrate has refused to comment, according to media reports. One victim’s advocate says that because there are only a few tools available to those who are victims of domestic violence, the low number of protection orders issued is really disheartening. She says that protection orders “absolutely save lives.”
Source: kdvr.com, “Magistrate’s denial of protection orders alarms domestic violence victims, advocates” Justin Joseph, Sep. 11, 2013