Judge Sends Alleged Domestic Abuser on Date With Wife; Sun-Sentinel Thinks It's Adorable (UPDATED)

joseph-bray-mug.jpg
"But, honey! There are sweet buttery biscuits!"
Update, 2:17 p.m.: Added comment from Hurley's judicial assistant.

Update: 3:05 p.m.: Added comment from the president of Women In Distress.
Plantation's Joseph Bray is accused of pushing his wife onto a couch, putting his hand across her neck, and raising his fist to punch her. He was arrested and went before Fort Lauderdale Judge Jay Hurley for a bond hearing -- but instead of Hurley setting bail, he set Bray free on the condition that he take his wife to bowling and Red Lobster.

The court appearance ran as lead story in today's Sun-Sentinel, next to a picture of a bowling ball and a bouquet of roses. The first paragraph described a "marital spat" that "resulted in an usual [sic] bond court ruling by a perceptive judge."

How perceptive! Bray's wife likes seafood. How does she feel about being strangled? The story quotes Hurley as saying it was a "minor incident,"
and then the article calls the release conditions "whimsical." 

It didn't seem particularly whimsical to us, and when we called domestic violence advocate Haley Cutler, she wasn't happy either. In addition to the terms of release, Cutler took exception to the way the entire hearing was run -- particularly the part where Hurley asked the alleged victim what she wanted to see happen. Frequently, battered women don't actually ask for anything to happen to their attackers, she said.

"That's why we don't put that on victims. That's why we have criminal law that says that's a crime," Cutler said. "[Hurley] just doesn't get it... and by making light of this, not only did he put this victim in greater danger but contributed to a culture where the system works for batterers and not victims."

Cutler also sent a mass email calling for community members to call Chief Judge Peter Weinstein to demand that Hurley apologize and "participate in judiciary training about the dynamics of domestic violence."

"Judge Hurley's ruling makes light of the real risks posed to domestic violence victims, demonstrates a lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic violence and contributes to a culture and climate where victims feel betrayed by the system and batterers feel empowered by it," the message says.

Updated section:
Judicial assistant Marjorie McClain said that Hurley couldn't comment on an open case, "but I can give you my two cents." Those cents included the statement that "from what we're looking at, people are trying to make more of it than it really was."

"When I saw it in the paper this morning... it looked like he was trying to reconcile the marriage," McClain said. "He didn't really think it was a true domestic violence event that people think about."

For what it's worth, choking your wife fits pretty much every definition of a domestic violence event, and a study from the National Institute of Justice found that women whose partners tried to choke them were almost ten times as likely to be murdered by their spouses compared to other women.

Hurley's final ruling was "flowers, birthday card, Red Lobster, bowling," plus marriage counseling, though Bray does still faces a charge of misdemeanor domestic battery. The Orlando Sentinel has video of the whole courtroom exchange to go along with the special extended director's cut of the dumb Sun-Sentinel print story.

We requested comment from the article's author but haven't yet heard back.

We also spoke to Mary Riedel, president of Women In Distress, the only certified domestic violence center in Broward County. She said she'd put in calls to both Hurley and Weinstein and left a message inviting Hurley to tour the Women in Distress facilities.

"We're very disappointed in his comments and the way this was handled in his courtroom," Riedel said. "It is not [a problem] solved with a night out to dinner. ... I'm sure while informed on many issues -- and I want to believe he didn't not do this purposefully -- today's push could be tomorrow's lethal shot."

She said the ruling's timing was exacerbated by several domestic violence deaths in Broward County last month and February's position as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

"At the very time we're trying to tell our young people about healthy relationships," she said, "What kind of message does this send?"

And, in case you or someone you love needs it: Women In Distress, maintains a 24-hour hotline for victims of abuse at 954-761-1133.


abdill_icon.png
New Times on Facebook | Twitter 
The Pulp on Facebook | Twitter 
Rich Abdill on Facebook | Twitter | Email
My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
stand up, speak out
stand up, speak out

 If you haven't yet done so, please CONTACT Chief Judge Weinstein to voice your concerns about Judge Hurley's decision; call (954) 831-5506 or write to Broward County Courthouse, 201 SE 6th St. Room 801A, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. Urge Judge Weinstein to consider the necessity for Judge Hurley to participate in judiciary training about the dynamics of domestic violence, as well as offer a public apology.

David A. Tracy
David A. Tracy

It looked the same to me from fly-over country.  I blogged about this myself.  http://wp.me/p25FgM-3r.  The Sun-Sentinel article missed the story in my opinion.  You have it spot-on.  The Judge ordered an alleged abuser to take his alleged victim to dinner.  There are no circumstances to make that a right decision. 

FQS9000
FQS9000

And today's pat on the head could be tomorrow's ball bat to the noggin.  Get real.  The law must deal with the actual and not a well paid advocate's most horrific scenario.

Bring back the "Rule of thumb".  Sometimes women deliberately provoke men to violence so they can extract something when they become the "victim".  This is the game some passive aggressive women play and why they stay.   They do it over and over again with multiple men.

Letterman
Letterman

Rerun this story.  Interview Judge Hurley and get it on YouTube.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that we're sick of this whacky judges doing crazy things.

Letterman
Letterman

This story is all over CNN news, Rich.  They're following it closely, and the pundits are saying "not so good, Judge".  What on earth was Hurley thinking?  That it was cute??

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Hurley has a history of ludicrous decisions. What does one expect from one of Charlie Crist's frat brothers. Only reason he was appointed to his seat.

Erin Lee
Erin Lee

THANK YOU for this write up, Rich Abdill and New Times! Thank you for taking a stand against Domestic Violence. When I read the article on Sun-Sentinel yesterday, as well as the ignorant comments from readers, it made me physically ill. No exaggeration. As someone that has been in an abusive relationship, it made me so angry that this woman was brave enough to come forward against her husband...only to be trivialized. There is nothing MINOR about pushing and choking someone, and a date night is not going to fix an abusive relationship!

Concerned
Concerned

A judge's ignorance could cost a woman's life. He should resign. Batterer assesor

EliG
EliG

When I read this the first thing I thought was the judge was being a dick towards poor people. Red Lobster and bowling? Really?

SolGreenberg
SolGreenberg

Courthouse Mouse at 4:39 PM February 08, 2012Worth repeating. Huley has to resign over this. Listen to the video and you'll hear that this was the SECOND time the wife called police to the scene. How many times does it take??

don keiber at 6:22 PM February 7, 2012

Once again a story about some broward judge making a moronic ruling that is far beyond his authority. Broward County needs to issue IQ tests for judges. This is not what he's being paid for. If the case wasn't serious enough to pursue legal action then it should have been dismissed. Any idiot judge who oversteps his authority by injecting himself into someone's personal relationships doesn't understand what his responsibilities are.

Awesome_Sauce
Awesome_Sauce

The Sun Sentinel piece has evidently set the tone for how this story is being framed in various news agencies around the U.S. You don't often see the word "jocular" or "just in time for Valentine's Day" in a story about domestic assault:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/...

Obermann
Obermann

What can you even say about this.  Whack-a-mole's got the only good response.  Thanks WAM, for making me laugh.

oOBlackHandOo
oOBlackHandOo

Somebody should punch Haley Cutler in the face a few times... Stay out of peoples relationship, you alcohol soft middle aged toad. :)

Whack_a_mole
Whack_a_mole

Personally, I'd rather take a punch to the face than be sentenced to dinner at Red Lobster.

I'm just sayin' . . .

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...