Tuesday, July 06, 2004

PPOs are only worth the paper they're printed on

And perhaps even less than that.

From the Detroit Free PressCourt orders were not enough to save woman

On the kitchen floor lay Paulette Litzan, ... who police say was killed by her ex-boyfriend, the father of the boy who found her body.
. . .
She had gone to police. She had gone to court. She had gotten a personal protection order against Stanley years ago and had filed for another -- which was denied -- three months before she was killed.

Her slaying was predictable and avoidable, said those who knew her. And to domestic violence experts, Litzan is a symbol of a flawed law enforcement system that too often ignores the pleas of women.

It should be noted that the PPO was not the only interface her boyfriend had with the justice system:

-in 1997 he was convicted of assault against her and given probation

-Her family and friends said Litzan filed many reports with the Sterling Heights Police Department describing harassing calls, violent behavior and threats.

-Court records show Stanley was convicted of at least two assaults related to Litzan, including an attack on her boyfriend a few years ago.

-He also pleaded guilty to domestic violence in 41A District Court in Sterling Heights for an April 2003 incident. He was ordered to stay away from Litzan for a year, but he violated his probation, court records show.

-he was charged with stalking. His last court appearance was two days before Litzan's death.

He also had been beating his son's dog with a hammer. Telling their son he would someday kill his mother. Stealing Litzan's cell phone and threatening all the men in the address book -- even young friends of Litzan's other son, a teenager.

Every possible sign that he intended to do Ms. Litzan severe harm was well and truly present, how the judge turned down her request for the second PPO is quite astonishing. But even if it had been granted the PPO would have done no good for her on the day he murdered her.

As the article states, the "system" clearly failed her and was clearly incapable of protecting her, reliance on such a system for protection is clearly misplaced for victims of domestic violence.

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