Debra J. Saunders

Because Madison is a law school graduate -- although, I should report, she is not a member of the state bar -- Lopez also sought "free legal advice about what would happen if there was a custody dispute," said Canny. Canny plans to ask the court not to admit the Madison video as evidence, because Lopez thought it was protected under attorney-client privilege.

Kandel supports the decision to prosecute and the restraining order that keeps Mirkarimi away from Lopez. Authorities don't always know if a woman is being coerced at home, she said. Kandel has known women who have received phone calls from their batterers from inside jail, as well as fathers who have threatened to win custody of children to intimidate women.

Surely, I venture, if Mirkarimi and Lopez are apart through the start of the trial on Feb. 24, the court should not consider Lopez to be under coercion.

Not necessarily, said Kandel, who already had explained, "A crime is technically against the state."

"The battered (women) syndrome will last as long as the prosecutor wants it to last," Canny opined. "It's voodoo science, to some extent."

It's one thing when a woman complains to police and then changes her mind. That did not happen here. Ditto if a woman shows up at the hospital with a broken arm, which also did not happen.

If I believed that Mirkarimi did bodily harm to Lopez, I wouldn't write this. But to believe that, I have to assume that Lopez is lying or that she doesn't know what is good for her.

As a lawyer who has spent her career empowering women, Kandel understood my qualms. She observed, "You don't want the criminal justice system to be one more coercive power in their lives."

That's why Kandel wants the case to go to trial.

Riverside County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Gerald Fineman assured me that prosecutors do charge men for bruising a woman's arm: "That is a battery under the law, whether it's one bruise or 10 bruises." Also, it is not unusual to charge a defendant with battery without the victim's complaining to police.

When the accused isn't a big name, few people sweat the civil-liberty niceties. "You see it all the time. I won't say nobody cares," Fineman added, but "nobody makes a big story of it, either."

Debra J. Saunders

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