Women's Justice Center, Centro de Justicia Para Mujeres
Home, Pagian Principal, About, Sobre Nosotras, Funding, Enianciamient
What's New What's New, Que Hay de Nuevo
Help. Ayuda
The Maria Teresa Macias Case, El Caso de Maria Teresa Macias
Criminal Justice, Justicia Criminal
Women in Policing, Mujeres Policia
Guest Book, Lobro de Vistantes
Workshops / Talleres
jContact Us, Contactanos



Criminal Justice

Back to Criminal Justice Index

Jackies's Life - A Courtroom Joke

There's not much question who pulled the trigger on July 17, 1999 that ended Jackie Anderson's life. With domestic violence homicide there rarely is. But those who cleared the path to Jackie's murder, like those who pave the way to the homicides of so many women, have once again escaped under the cover of law and order.

It doesn't take much digging to trace the trail of injustices that gave David Anderson the green light on his violence against Jackie all the way back to 1992. The half-hearted investigations, the failures to protect, the undercharging, and the give-away plea bargains are readily available on the public record if only people would look. And buried just a little deeper in the transcript of a routine hearing is the moment that sealed Jackie's fate; a work-a-day example of courtroom fun, laced with a lethal contempt for women.

It was three weeks before Jackie's murder, when the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office reviewed the latest domestic violence crime report against David. The Sheriff's Department crime report recommended that the DA charge three felony counts; one each of domestic violence, false imprisonment, and terrorist threats. But the deputy district attorney, noting that Anderson was already on probation for two previous crimes, took the easy way out. By simply charging Anderson with violations of probation, the work of prosecuting the violence done to Jackie and the effort of dealing with a victim could all be avoided. Victims, it seems, cramp this attorney's style.

Even so, with this slap-on-the-wrist approach, the district attorney still had the opportunity to protect Jackie Anderson's life. In a violation of probation hearing a simple request from the district attorney could have held David in jail without bail. Look at what happened instead!

After a few preliminaries at the July 2 violation-of-probation arraignment, defense attorney Schlosser asked probation officer Cropp, "Has probation had a chance to work this one up at all?"

Probation Officer Cropp: "We're adamantly opposed to release at this time."

The Court: (Judge Ronald Brown) "I haven't heard the term `adamantly' for a while."

Defense Attorney Schlosser: "I don't think he knows what that means."

Probation Officer Cropp: "I learned how to spell it this morning."

That was it, the sum total of the argument for Jackie's safety. The judge blithely ordered a low bail, and with an easy $256 David Anderson was released. Two weeks later on July 17, 1999 Jackie Anderson was dead, and her three children were made motherless for life.

What happened in the court on July 2 was neither accident nor twist of fate, nor was it the slip-up of one man. It was the inevitable careless disregard that permeates the system when domestic violence isn't taken seriously and when women's lives don't count. Probation officer Cropp knew David's record and he knew what needed to be done. He even mouthed the words in court. But when his words were turned into a game, Cropp instantly forgot Jackie and joined in the fun. Judge Brown also knew David's record of domestic violence. He had it right there in front of him and, in fact, referred to it in the proceedings. And when the probation officer stated he was "adamant" for no release, it was Judge Brown who ignored the gravity and started the fun.

And what about deputy district attorney Richard Martin? As in all such proceedings, the deputy district attorney had primary responsibility to argue for Jackie's and the community's protection. Throughout the proceedings, Martin never once opened his mouth on the subject.

At the start of the third millennium, it's well known that firm criminal justice response to domestic violence is the one thing proven to prevent domestic violence homicide, and to prevent it well. The cities where law enforcement and courts have taken these crimes seriously have reduced their domestic violence homicide rates by up to 60%. Those officials who withhold justice from women are as knowingly culpable in the women's deaths as a doctor who withholds penicillin from a patient with pneumonia.

In the weeks after Jackie's murder, before we had obtained the transcript, Mendocino County District Attorney Norm Vroman went on radio and assured the community that his office always asks for high bail in these situations. District Attorney Norm Vroman lied. And when asked by reporters why he hadn't filed domestic violence charges on the most recent crime report, District Attorney Norm Vroman answered that there was insufficient evidence. The District Attorney lied again. The police report shows that there was more than sufficient evidence to file on all three recommended charges. Like any other common perpetrator aware of his guilt, the District Attorney lied to cover his deeds.

When women are murdered in your community, look into the public record, and talk with the family and friends. The trail of criminal justice system complicity that leads directly to so many homicides of women must be exposed. And the officials guilty of this complicity must be held to answer.

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women's Justice Center,

All rights reserved © 2000 by Woman's Justice Center
Web site by S. Henry Wild