Florida Judge jails domestic abuse victim for refusing to testify

You’re right, I found that out at the link in my post. It’s a valid counterpoint.

But this guy was already in custody and she didn’t help the system manage him. He’s a threat and she has a responsibility to society and herself to do it right.

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I don’t know the specifics of that locale, but possession of pot would probably get him at least a number of months, if not a year and a half or so. 16 days for domestic violence is just galling. The system there isn’t managing domestic violence in any responsible way, and sending a victim to jail is a symptom of that gross dysfunction.


We agree here. There are better ways, and the frustrated judge chose an easy but harsh one.

I corrected my post above. Thank you.


I didn’t want to go too much into detail, but the deputy D.A. told me that both of them were Korean nationals and they believed that the woman, who didn’t speak an iota of English, was his mistress. Apparently, he brought her over and paid for the apartment but lived with his wife elsewhere in OC. I felt bad for choosing my trip over testifying because he punched her several times and then tackled her (really hard) as she was running to the door. The prosecutor was really nice about it and told me that she already went back to South Korea, and they were hopeful that she got away from him for good.


I wasn’t criticizing you.

That’s a sad situation, but I’ve been in similar positions and I get that.

The woman in the story and the judge are in a dance of broken social systems. They’re both at fault to some degree, but the overarching mandate is to manage that dangerous dude.

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Fuck no. If the woman wanted, she could have shown up and declared that she was exercising her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Subpoena or no subpoena, the “impediment of justice” is not something you can do by refusing to answer questions in a hearing. The judge was pissy because the woman didn’t show up for the case, not because she impeded anything, which she could have done with zero repercussions. (Unless they gave her immunity, which is a whole other ball of wax.)

Nope. Judge is 100% at fault. Judges have immense discretion, and she decided to use hers in a way she didn’t have to.


I already said that the judge was unnecessarily harsh.

But she did willfully disobey a subpoena (that part right there makes her a criminal!), and also failed to testify against a criminal when it really mattered. That’s fault.

As stated: She is not under any legal obligation to testify whatsoever. There is no legal duty for her to help jail the man. The subpoena can only compel her to show up. She disobeyed, but an astonishing number of people fail to appear for subpoenas that never have a warrant issued or are held in contempt. People who are not victims in the case at hand.

The fifth amendment is only about the right to not self-incriminate, isn’t it? Does it apply here?

Oh yes she is, that is exactly what a subpoena does under the law. The judge had every right to punish her for that.

ETA - She’s not entitled to 5th amendment privilege because she’s not on trial… Just so you know.

What if she filed a false report? The judge in the case cannot force her to incriminate herself. And because the judge (an agent of the state) cannot intrinsically know if that is why she’s asserting her right, the judge is left with little choice. Even if she hadn’t filed a false report, again, the judge cannot know this is the case. All witnesses except the defendant if the right is waived, enjoy the right to remain silent, and enjoy it selectively. When cops question you, you’re not on trial either.

The subpoena compels her to show at court and testify.

If there is no jeopardy, then you have no 5th Amendment. So if that was her concern, she could say, “I exercise my right not to incriminate myself.”

Usually what happens at this point is the judge grants immunity based on her testimony. She can still go to trial for her crimes, but that testimony can’t be used.

If the judge grants immunity, there is no 5th and she must testify. If she doesn’t, it’s at the judge’s discretion to hold her in contempt, which is exactly what happened here.

ETA - But she never bothered with the 5th, so that’s all conjectural. She was under legal obligation to show and testify before the judge. The judge was unnecessarily harsh, but right.

Categorically incorrect. If you’re under subpoena then you must testify or face the wrath of a judge. If you claim the 5th, that gets dealt with, but you must say it before the judge.

Absolutely right. Don’t tell the fucking cops anything.

Exactly, but her baseline right, unmodified by immunity, is to remain silent. And the judge’s harshness is 100% on the judge. The judge did not have to act as she did. I argue that judges have an immense responsibility to avoid using their power capriciously, much more so than a person has a good faith responsibility, mediated by the possibility of compliance, to appear. The woman had anxiety. People with anxiety disorders often have real problems leaving the house. A judge can’t jail you if you got hit by a car (well, they can, but they absolutely shouldn’t.) This isn’t a case of simple disobedience. Unless you don’t think that psychiatric conditions are real.

No. This is why lawyers are so important when your freedom is on the hook. You’d think you could just take the stand and not say anything at all, but that will get you thrown in jail at a minimum. Obstruction of Justice charges could come as well, and that’s prison.

You must claim your 5th amendment right before the judge (or your counsel must do it) for it to work.

ETA - And then the judge gets to bargain with you, and if he/she grants immunity, you testify or you get time. It’s pretty much that simple, but not. Lawyer.

You can stop bringing this up because I’ve already said more than once that we agree here.

But she did break the law, and she did not have a right to ignore the subpoena.

This judge is a totally insensitive clod and should be out of a job. We see now; even a little power corrupts completely!

So I wrote a whole long explanation where I clarified what I was saying the whole time, but deleted it because the fact is that while I screwed up and said some things that were blatantly wrong, you actually described the law to me exactly as I understood it… and after rereading everything I think we were doing that thing people do sometimes where we were arguing about our agreement. As for the blatantly wrong things I said, I’ve officially been schooled:


Ain’t it funny how that happens?

I regard you a friend and I’m glad we can disagree (or even agree, but with different words!) and still be chill.


Yeah, it makes no sense that a domestic violence victim might just be terrified to be in the same room as her abuser.

And it’s never happened in the history of mankind, that abusers track down and murder women who dare go to the police, let alone testify in open court.

And last but certainly not least, Judge Collins’ replicant-like empathy deficit makes it utterly absurd that anyone could possibly come to the conclusion that where violence against women is concerned the judicial system cares about EVERYTHING but them. Because it sure seems to me Collins cared a lot more about her and the prosecutor’s conviction rates than the actual victim of violent crime in the room.