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Victim as Prosecutor

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When a court imposes a domestic violence restraining order and the respondent violates it, who is the prosecutor for the resulting criminal contempt? The District of Columbia Court of Appeals* held that under the pertinent section of the D.C. Code, "the criminal contempt proceeding against Mr. Robertson under the District's intrafamily offense statute was prosecuted in the name of Ms. Watson, not in the name of the United States or the District of Columbia." The victim can pursue the prosecution despite a plea agreement by the prosecutor. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review that ruling in Robertson v. US ex rel. Watson, No. 08-6261.

The high court also took up a case on employee privacy in text messages where the employer buys the pager, pays for the service, and tells the employee the messages are not private, but a supervisor says personal messages are allowed. City of Ontario v. Quon, No. 08-1332. (Seems like an easy case to me, so of course the Ninth went the other way.) They also took up a deportation-for-crime case, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, No. 09-60.
* The D.C. Court of Appeals is a constitutional odd duck, not to be confused with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As part of the D.C. home rule package, Congress set up local D.C. courts that handle the cases that would be state-court cases in an actual State. These courts are treated like state courts for many purposes, including certiorari review in the Supreme Court. (See 28 U.S.C. ยง1257(b).)  D.C. courts and laws are still federal at bottom, though, so the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review purely local-law questions if it wants to. It rarely wants to.

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I know a woman who is a survivor of a terrible attack and is now trying to help her children cope with what they saw.

In her own words:

In October 2006, I was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in front of my three and five year- old children in the parking garage of the Stamford Marriott Hotel. The attacker is now serving a 20- year sentence.

Unfortunately, my children and I will serve a lifetime sentence as a result of this experience. Although we are fortunate to receive support and counseling, this incident continues to be a source of considerable pain and difficulty for both my children and me.

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