Domestic assault or abuse charges are one of the most frequently charged crimes.  They also carry some of the worst penalties, not to mention the negative stigma which attaches.  Often charges are filed against the spouse that does not call the police.  In other words, whomever calls the police first, wins.  These cases are often extremely difficult to sort through for everyone involved.  Because of the penalties and stigma, false reports are often filed.  One spouse attempts to obtain the upper hand for a variety of reasons and false charges can be filed.  
Undoubtedly there are violent domestic situations.  I've had family members suffer at the hands of a violent abuser.  Many of the violent crimes, and most of the murder cases I've been involved in, have had a domestic component.  This weekend I heard that a Des Moines man named Charles Ralph Fenton has been charged with murder in Madison County and that it had a domestic component, and this brought these and other issues to mind again. 
The media has regurgitated the State's version, which is usually to charge the guy with murder in the first degree and then sort it out later.  (There are women who are also charged with these types of crimes).  Of course Mr. Fenton does not have the ability nor the resources to spoil the jury pool the way the State always does.  Having had many trials in Madison County and other domestic murder cases in other rural Iowa counties, the State knows this information will spread like wildfire.  I guarantee everyone in Winterset, St. Charles, Peru, Earlham and on and on has heard about this case.  I have had a case moved before from Madison County due to media attention and community bias.  Don't get me wrong, they are good people, but they are people and human nature will take over and as a society we demand a fair trial.  I only hope that the media will consider Mr. Fenton's rights to due process and a fair trial.  We all need to remember that he is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  But has this become "justice" in our society these days where we are so quick to convict?  The government is always the most well-represented and richest party in the courtroom.  Plato said long ago, "justice is but the interest of the stronger."  Was he right?
And since I am quoting, here is another to keep in mind with regards Charles Fenton or any other case that the government tries in the media:  "Where there is room for question, something is wrong."  Here is a question: the reports in the media say that Mr. Fenton was hospitalized after the incident.  Why?
As I said before, often times women are charged in these cases.  If you will recall, Mary Winkler was charged with murder in Tennessee in 2007 with shooting her preacher husband in the head with a shotgun.  It was all over the media.  Dr. Lynne Zager testified for the defense in that case.  I have worked with Dr. Zager before and know from experience she is a well-qualified expert.  Dr. Zager testified in the Winkler case that Mrs. Winkler could not have formed the intent to kill due to a compromised mental condition and she would have dissociative episodes.  Winkler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, served a brief prison sentence, and later obtained custody of her children.
As Thomas Jefferson said, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive."  We need to resist everyone of the government's attempts to poison a trial.  Alright, one more quote and then I'm done: "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."  Our state motto.  Its on the flag.  The same flag that bears the name of the first party listed in every criminal case in Iowa.  We the people need to hold them (us) to it, in every case.  No matter what, no matter the charge.  There is nothing more important.

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