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Kauffman wins domestic violence assault trial

Attorney Katie Kauffman won a trial on Jan. 11 in Clark County District Court for a client charged with assaulting his wife.

An assistant city attorney took the case to trial despite the alleged victim making it clear that her husband had been very drunk, she’d been injured by accident and she wanted the assault charge dropped.

An assistant city attorney argued he should be able to let the jury know that Kauffman’s client had prior convictions for assault. Kauffman won that argument, however. Judge Chad Sleight said the jury wouldn’t hear about her client’s criminal history unless her client testified and made a statement (such as, “I would never hit anyone on purpose,”) that the prosecutor could then challenge by asking about past convictions.

Kauffman’s client did not testify during the one-day trial.

His wife testified that on the night of the incident, she and her husband went out to a bar and he got drunk. (She didn’t specify what he’d been drinking, but it was a potent mixed drink, abbreviated AMF, that has five types of liquor. He had three.) They got into an argument, and they continued arguing after they returned home.

She said she was standing behind her husband in their bedroom, and he was packing items because he planned to leave for the night. He picked up a pair of pants that had a belt on them, then swung them over his head. The belt buckle hit her in the face, and she shrieked.

The couple’s teenage daughter testified that she heard her mother’s cry, went into the room, saw that her mother’s nose was bleeding and asked what happened. She said her father said it had been an accident.

Kauffman’s client called 911 -- remember he was very drunk -- and said he’d been the one who had been assaulted. He was arrested by responding deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with fourth-degree assault domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

During closing arguments, Kauffman told jurors to use their common sense. There was no way the prosecutor could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her client intentionally assaulted his wife when the testimony was that he was intoxicated, he swung a pair of pants over his head and a belt buckle hit his wife in the face.

The jury deliberated for two hours before returning the not-guilty verdict. 

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, assault, domestic violence

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