LACBA Update Back Issues - October 2015

LACBA Domestic Violence Legal Services Project Assists Gunshot Victim

She moved slowly while walking into Room 235, Domestic Violence Legal Services Project, at Stanley Mosk Courthouse. She had reason: her torso had three bullet wounds.

Shoot out. One week prior, her former boyfriend hopped the security fence of her apartment building and telephoned her, demanding that she come outside to talk to him. She refused and being afraid, called his sisters who live next door for help. Her ex called her repeatedly, insisting that her current boyfriend open the gate so he could leave the premises. Tired of the calls, her boyfriend handed her a gun to protect herself and went outside to open the gate.

Lights flash. She heard her boyfriend yell and looked out the window, saw small pops of light, and heard gunshots. Her boyfriend ran into the house, with her ex in pursuit. They both entered the apartment. She shot at her ex, but the gun misfired. Her ex shot her in her torso. She tried to block him with the bedroom door. He shot her two more times, and now she was on her knees, bleeding from her wounds.

Her ex shoved her head down on the bed and put his gun to her head. He said, “You’re not going to laugh at me.” Her boyfriend pulled the ex off of her. Her ex shot the boyfriend, and she watched as her boyfriend dropped onto the floor.

Her ex’s sisters ran into the room as one sister tried to get the gun from him. She helped grab the gun and shoved it under the bed. Next, her ex hit her with closed fists about the head. One of his sisters pushed him away, and he fled, tripping over her boyfriend’s body. Someone called 911.

The baby was asleep on the bed during the entire time.

Help arrives. The police and paramedics came. She was taken to the hospital and stayed there for seven days. An LAPD detective told her that her boyfriend was dead and that her ex had been arrested.

The following day, a social worker from Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) visited her. The worker explained that if she did not get a restraining order, DCFS would take her child from her.

Pro bono assistance at DVP. She came to DVP for help. The petition, prepared by volunteer Regina Ratner, who became a lawyer in 2012, was granted in its entirety, including protection of the baby.

Regina said, “I just want to help people who may not be able to help themselves. I find it personally satisfying to do so. Volunteering fills me with gratitude for the blessings I enjoy.” She noted, “When I read the intake sheet for the Petitioner, I saw that murder was involved.” Petitioner is a monolingual in Spanish speaker and needed an interpreter. “When she told her story of the shooting,” Regina stated, “I was in tears. Every client I help at LACBA Domestic Violence Legal Services Project increases my desire for justice in the world.”

DVP secures pro bono representation. Melinda Blake, an associate attorney at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, stepped in to provide pro bono representation for Petitioner at her upcoming hearing, while a legal secretary at Orrick served as a translator. When told that DVP found a “free” attorney for her, the victim burst into tears and sobbed. Melinda consulted with DVP during the preparation. Due to Melinda’s advocacy, the court granted Petitioner a five-year restraining order and full legal and physical custody of her child. Said Melinda, the Petitioner “now has the tools to protect herself and her family.”

For more information about LACBA Domestic Violence Legal Services Project, contact Directing Attorney Deborah Kelly at 213.896.6491 or dkelly@lacba.org.