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Cognata, Coffin win DV trial

Attorneys Amber Cognata and Lee Coffin won a domestic violence trial on July 6 in Clark County District Court, the second such victory for Vancouver Defenders in a week.

Their client was charged with assault in the fourth degree domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

The client was arrested by Vancouver police officers on Jan. 21 after he called 911 to report that he’d been assaulted by his girlfriend. The girlfriend told officers she’d been assaulted, and had a gash on her head.

The client did not have any visible injuries, so he was the one officers chose to arrest.

At trial, officers told jurors that on the night of the incident they could tell by the way the alleged victim spoke to them that she did not want police involvement. She even told them as much, and declined to fill out a written statement.

She had a lot more to say at trial.

She testified that she and her boyfriend had been arguing about laundry and the fight turned physical when the client threw a statue at her and it hit her in the head. However, under cross-examination she acknowledged that she threw the statue first, and also swiped a fan off a table in anger and pushed her boyfriend.

The night of the incident, she told officers that her boyfriend had pushed her, knocking her into a picture frame that broke. At trial, she said she might have tripped and fell into the frame.

During closing argument, a Vancouver assistant city attorney told jurors that they get to decide the credibility of the witnesses and the fact the alleged victim acknowledged she may have been wrong about being pushed into the picture frame made her more credible.

Cognata argued that the reason the girlfriend didn’t want police involvement was that she knew she was the aggressor and didn’t want to get arrested in front of her children.

Jurors deliberated approximately 1 1/2 hours before unanimously voting not guilty.

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, domestic violence, Clark County, District Court

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders