By WENDY J. MURPHY
Lindsay Smith is in a coma fighting for her life after her ex-boyfriend Richard Lorman shot her in the head last week as she was leaving work in Salem. Lorman then shot and killed himself.
One could be forgiven for thinking that a New Hampshire judge bears some of the blame for all of it.
Lindsay went to court in New Hampshire, where she lives, on Sept. 21 and begged Judge Polly Hall for a restraining order, but Hall said no. Lindsay’s affidavit explained how 6-foot, 275-pound Lorman subjected her to years of abuse, including violent and coerced sex. She explained that she recently told Lorman she was leaving him, after which he threatened her, saying he would “make her pay” and “f*** up her whole life, and everything she held dear.” Lindsay owned the house where she lived with Lorman, but she was so frightened she moved out. Lorman then began a pattern of intimidation and harassment against Lindsay, her family, friends and co-workers.
Lorman didn’t even show up for the restraining order hearing, but Judge Hall denied Lindsay’s request for protection. A few weeks later, Lorman shot Lindsay in the head.
Reasonable people want to know: What’s up with Judge Hall? What would possess any judge, much less a woman, to deny a victim of domestic violence a restraining order, especially when the abuser doesn’t even come to court!?
Even novice judges know that the risk of a battered woman being killed goes up dramatically when she tells her abuser that she is leaving, and even a child understands that when a man tells a woman he will “make her pay” he is talking about killing her, not sending her an invoice. Plus, judges generally do not rule in favor of abusers who fail to appear because a man who refuses to respect a court summons is the same type of man who would rape, abuse and retaliate against a woman.
Judge Hall was appointed to the bench only a few years ago by Gov. Chris Sununu. Before becoming a judge, Hall was a family law attorney who specialized in high income divorces. Who usually has the “high income” in a divorce? Not women.
Judge Hall has yet to explain herself. According to WBZ, who broke the story, Judge Hall is now under investigation by a committee appointed by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Hopefully they will investigate claims that Hall has a pattern of denying restraining orders to abused women and has openly supported “men’s rights.”
Meanwhile, Lindsay’s family should talk to a lawyer about suing the judge for sex discrimination. Judges are usually immune from lawsuits — but not if their actions are discriminatory. If Judge Hall has a pattern of denying restraining orders to women, she should be sued.
Judges who disrespect women contribute to a national mindset that sees violence against women as unimportant. In turn, domestic violence incidence rates go up because offenders do not fear the consequences. Five women a day are killed by men in America — a number that has nearly doubled in the past thirty years. Mixed in with systemic sexism is the absurd but growing demand for “decarceration” and similar “soft on crime” policies that prevent abusive men from being held accountable when they beat and rape women.
These nutty ideas ignore decades of research showing that tough law enforcement responses to domestic violence save lives, reduce recidivism, and increase reporting. In one California study, domestic violence homicides went down dramatically from thirty in the first year, to seven in year six, after prosecutors adopted a policy that prevented victims from dropping the charges. Researchers have known for a very long time that when abusive men fear being held accountable, they are less likely to hurt women.
In a more recent and disturbing example of why tough law-enforcement policies are helpful, Russia passed a law in 2017 forbidding incarceration for first-time domestic violence offenders. This was followed immediately by a surge in domestic violence and domestic violence homicides. Twelve thousand women were killed by domestic violence the year after the law took effect.
Judge Hall is either unqualified or biased against women. Either way, she bears some of the blame for why Lindsay Smith is lying in a coma and Robert Larson is dead. Hall should step down or be fired because Lindsay’s life is far more important than Polly’s robe.