President's Message (Astrid Monson)|
Arlene Marzan (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Proposed Budget for FY 97-98
Con Con Committee to Meet
Vote Count (Arlene Ellis)
League Offers Student Memberships (Grace Furukawa)
Web Page for League (Judith Stitley)
One more woman in our community has died after enduring years of domestic violence. Arlene Marzan had done the things expected of an abuse victim by society. She left her husband, obtained a restraining order, and spent time in local domestic violence shelters. Is this another failure of our legal system to appropriately assess the defendant, Saldy Marzan, for lethality and provide swift and certain consequences for his repeated offenses?
Mr. Marzan's name shows up in the data bank of the Domestic Violence Family Court Monitoring Project that was conducted by the League and the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. The report was released last September and spurred public discussion about the prosecution and adjudication of domestic violence cases in the City and County of Honolulu.
Mr. Marzan was observed in court on two desperate occasions during the study. On April 29, 1996 he pled Not Guilty to a charge of abuse of a family or household member (a 709-906 charge) at his Arraignment and Plea hearing. On June 3, 1996 he pled No Contest to a reduced charge at a scheduled jury trial. He was sentenced to one year probation and domestic violence control counseling.
At the June 3rd proceedings, the prosecutor was unable to provide the court with any prior record of the defendant. Yet Saldy Marzan has a long criminal record, including prior past and recent convictions for domestic violence. His history is filled with failures to comply with parole and probation requirements and suspended or minimal sentences. It looks as though there were few serious consequences for his behavior. Now, Arlene Marzan is dead.
This case is a tragedy. The treatment of Saldy Marian in the system is typical of the findings presented in the Court Monitoring Report. It is confirmation that our present system is not working. And it sadly demonstrates how the lack of a suitable preventive measures can result in death for victims of domestic violence.
There are two bills currently before the legislature that would provide some help in tracking the violent history of these perpetrators. H.B. 623/S.B. 1053 will eliminate the provision that allows convicted domestic violence perpetrators to apply for an order to expunge all records relating to the person's arrest, trial, finding of guilt and dismissal or discharge. H.B. 622/S.B. 1062. would prevent deferred acceptance of guilty pleas and no contest pleas in domestic violence cases. At this time the bills have passed out of the Judiciary committees of both the House and the Senate and await crossover.
The Human Resources Committee is continuing its work in collaboration with the Hawai'i State Commission on the Status of Women to expand the Court Monitoring Project to each of the neighbor islands and, monitor again, on O'ahu.
This issue requires our vigilance and continuing public discussion. On February 11, 1997, Lynn Kealoha died, apparently as the result of blows from her boyfriend. The Aloha Voter will look at her death in the next issue.
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