NOTHING precludes a magistrate from determining a domestic violence case when there is a simultaneous matter between estranged couples in the Family Court.
This was the finding of two appellate court judges who dismissed an appeal by a San Juan man against the order of a magistrate who granted a protection order to his ex-wife.
The man complained that the magistrate erred in granting the order and was unjust and unfair. He also complained that when the protection order was granted, his attorney was not present and the order was not fully explained to him.
The couple, who is now divorced, continued to live together on the same premises at Bagatelle Ext, San Juan, although in different parts of the house.
The ex-wife had complained of being intimated and psychologically and emotionally abused by her ex-husband, who claimed to be visually impaired, and who had a previous prison record.
She succeeded in getting the restraining order for two years. The ex-husband denied the allegations against him, and instead complained that she was the aggressive one after he filed the divorced proceedings and had threatened to throw him out of the house.
He claimed to be the victim of her abuse and even received an injunction in the divorce proceedings to restrain her from coming into his part of the house.
In dismissing his appeal, Justices Prakash Moosai and Mark Mohammed held that the magistrate’s findings which led to the granting of the protection order were reasonably based on the totality of the evidence she had before her.
Mohammed said no material procedural unfairness occurred when the order was granted, and although the magistrate did not articulate the terms of it to the ex-husband in accordance with provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, this was not fatal since the order, which has since expired, was not a complex one, but was straightforward.