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Mad Hatter Justice at the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence

Did you read the story about Alice in Wonderland? Remember when the Queen of Hearts issued her verdict?

"Sentence first! Verdict afterwards."

This Mad Hatter concept of justice is not just a child's fantasy tale – it's also found at the Commission on Domestic Violence (CODV) of the American Bar Association. Comb through its website – http://www.abanet.org/domviol – and read its publications. You will never find the words, "due process for the accused," "false allegation" or "innocent until proven guilty."

The CODV has published a two-page flyer called "10 Myths about Custody and Domestic Violence and How to Counter Them." The flyer consists of a series of 19 claims about DV and child custody: http://www.abanet.org/domviol/custody_myths.pdf.

Scan the CODV claims and then compare them with the actual research. Folks, get ready for an Alice-in-Wonderland experience. For example:

  • Claim 1.1 states, "Studies show that 25-50% of disputed custody cases involve domestic violence." The truth is, up to three-quarters of disputed custody cases involve only an allegation of domestic violence.
  • Claim 9.3, "Mental health testing cannot distinguish a batterer from a non-batterer" turns out to be the exact opposite from what the research shows – in fact most batterers can be diagnosed to have a psychopathology.

Of the 19 CODV claims, 17 are found to be misleading, unsupported, or completely false. Only two of the claims are true. Even Alice would be amazed!

These findings are documented in RADAR's latest Special Report, "Myths of ABA Commission on Domestic Violence: Summary Report," which can be found at http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Myths-of-ABA-Commission-on-DV-Summary.pdf.

If you want to see the blow-by-blow analysis, see the Detailed Findings report: http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Myths-of-ABA-Commission-on-DV-Detailed.pdf.

RADAR has sent these two reports to the American Bar Association, requesting the flyer be removed from its website. RADAR is also putting out a press release to 17,000 media contacts. (http://www.mediaradar.org/press_release_20080602.php) This week we are not asking you to contact the ABA, only to peruse the RADAR Special Report, in case we need to take action later on.

And while you're at it, you might want to pull out your old copy of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:

Queen of Hearts: "Now then, are you ready for your sentence?"
Alice: "But there has to be a verdict first."
Queen of Hearts: "Sentence first! Verdict afterwards."
Alice: "But that just isn't the way."
Queen of Hearts: [shouting] "All ways are...!"
Alice: "...your ways, your Majesty."

Date of RADAR Release: June 2, 2008

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R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org