PA Supreme Court Rules Domestic Violence Victims Must Testify Against Their Abusers

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week that victims of domestic violence must testify against their abusers regardless of whether they intend to press charges. The unanimous decision that overruled a lower court’s decision was based on an incident in which Kellie Kirkner was choked and beaten by her husband Joseph Kirkner in 1999. Mrs. Kirkner obtained a protection order against her husband last May; however, she refused to testify against him, citing that “she wished to preserve her marriage and family.”

Chester County First Assistant District Attorney Patrick Carmody applauded the ruling saying: “It’s crucial to an effective prosecution in these types of cases. Too many of these cases become homicides.” The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence came out against the ruling, asserting that victims will become even more reluctant to bring charges against their abusers if they know that they will then be forced to face them in a courtroom.

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Associated Press 8/29/02; Philadelphia Inquirer 8/29/02

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