Editorial: Not worth the paper

May 9, 2014 

A man who beats his wife and children isn’t much of a man. And, he’s not likely to be sidetracked by a court order warning him to stay away.

But that’s what Nathan Holden received from the court when he was accused of committing violence against his estranged wife and children.

He now stands accused of killing his in-laws and shooting his wife in the face – all while his children were inside their grandparents’ home where this tragedy took place.

If Holden is guilty – and until he has his day in court, that will remain in question – he deserves the harshest penalty the law can mete out.

But this is just one example of court orders holding little sway with people who can’t control their own tempers. There are dozens, if not hundreds of cases in North Carolina each year in which a person is accused of violating the terms of a domestic violence order.

In each case, the victim is trying to use the justice system to ward off people intent on hurting them. Police can’t possibly camp out at the home of every alleged domestic violence victim. But court orders can include requirements for stronger enforcement and law enforcement agencies can share in those responsibilities.

Subjects ordered to obey these orders can be confined to their homes or granted travel priveliges to pre-determined locations such as a workplace. And they can be required to submit to greater monitoring by social workers. Law enforcement officers can be given greater lattitude to look for weapons and other indicators that might suggest a person is more likely than not to violate the court’s order.

Expensive? Perhaps. We just wonder if any who would play the expense card would care to place a value on the lives lost in this incident. Or the lives lost under similar circumstances.

Our courts – even when they issue these orders – are failing people who have already been victimized once. In this case, two innocent people died. A third was badly injured and three children will be left emotionally scarred for the rest of their life because of what they witnessed.

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