Judge takes hands-on approach to domestic violence

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 10:32 AM

DALLAS (AP) — The five men who appear in Rick Magnis' Dallas courtroom each Friday afternoon were convicted of hitting or battering women, one even punching a pregnant woman in the stomach.

Magnis, a state district judge, is betting that his court can change their behavior and pull them out of a cycle of violence.

He's overseeing a new program for domestic violence convicts who were given probation despite being considered high risks to break the law again. The program requires the men to appear weekly in court, along with other conditions like drug and alcohol monitoring, home visitation and intervention classes, WFAA-TV and The Dallas Morning News reported.

"A lot of these guys are getting probation because the state doesn't have a strong case, because the complainant is not being cooperative," Magnis told WFAA. "They're not getting probation because the state or the prosecutor thinks that they deserve it, or that they're not high-risk. It's because this is the only disposition they can come up with that he'll accept."

The program involves the county probation department, Dallas police, and local groups like The Family Place, a women's shelter.

"This is a different type of program, because it's an after-the-fact program ... after they're put on probation, when they think they might be able to get away with something, when they've not had to go to prison," Family Place executive director Paige Flink told the television station.

Offenders who miss their weekly meeting with Magnis face the possibility of arrest.

He spoke with four of the five men last week, issuing both warnings and praise.

"You're taking care of all your business," he said to one of the men, according to the newspaper.

The fifth man, accused of hitting the pregnant woman and later threatening a woman with a knife, didn't show up on time. Magnis was moments away from signing an arrest warrant when he entered the courtroom.

"You're going to be reporting to me every Friday — understand?" Magnis told him. "And I don't really like it when people are late."

Dallas has had several high-profile domestic violence incidents, including the slaying two years ago of a south Dallas woman who tried to call 911 as her ex-husband, Delvecchio Patrick, allegedly stabbed her. Patrick is scheduled to go on trial for murder in June.

Magnis, who is running for re-election this fall, acknowledges the risk to him and the system's efforts if one of the men before him commits another crime.

"If I have one of these guys go off the reservation and hurt someone, I could find myself in trouble," Magnis said. "But I'm willing to take that chance because I think it's important."

Print
Email
|