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Odom Praises Nashville Police Chief for Addressing Domestic Violence Issues

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; June 18, 2014: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Representative Gary Odom (D-Nashville) has released the following statement praising Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson for his work in trying to protect victims of domestic violence and exposing problems in the courts:

“I want to thank Chief Anderson for exposing serious problems in a system that is supposed to protect domestic violence victims. Nashvillians all over have had their faith in the justice system of our city shaken after seeing the utter failure the court to protect victims of domestic violence.

“While I fully support the efforts by Judge Higgins and Chief Anderson to address these problems internally, we have to do everything in our power to ensure that this behavior does not happen again. I am working now on legislation that will take the discretion to release domestic abusers early from the hands of judges and require that those arrested for domestic violence serve a mandatory 12 hour cooling-off period with no exceptions. I pledge to introduce that legislation before the start of session next year.

“Victims of domestic violence all too often live in a state of constant fear. It is sickening that this court has failed to do everything in its power to ensure that no harm would come of a woman brave enough to stand up to her attacker and call the police.

“I am proud to stand with Chief Anderson and promise to support him in whatever way I can to restore confidence in our criminal justice system.”

Throughout his career, ensuring the safety of domestic violence victims has been a priority of Rep. Odom’s. This year, he co-sponsored the “Survivor’s Safety Bill,” which requires persons convicted of a second, third, or subsequent domestic assault involving bodily injury to serve the minimum sentence day for day and consecutively.

In addition, Rep. Odom has sponsored legislation to require the Administrative Office of the Courts to keep statistics on domestic violence, require that orders of protection be entered in the Tennessee Crime Information System, and worked to prohibit the disclosure and identification of domestic violence shelter locations in the service of process and court proceedings.

Hawk Denies Wife’s Domestic Assault Allegation

State Rep. David Hawk says he didn’t hit his wife, despite his arrest Sunday on charges that he struck her in the face while holding their 11-month old daughter.

“I did not harm my wife,” the Greeneville Republican said at the state Capitol. “Yesterday morning my wife had a gun and told me she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby.”

Hawk, chairman of the Environment and Conservation committee and five-term member of the state House, said he had read an upsetting text message on his wife, Crystal Hawk’s, phone Sunday morning after they spent a night out drinking.

“We had been to an event, a social event, Saturday evening. We had stopped at a location, had a drink with some friends. She had a martini, I had a beer,” he said. “She drank a little bit at the event. We went back to the previous location, she had another martini. There was, of course, nothing in the morning.”

Hawk’s wife said her husband hit her in the face, knocking her to the ground while she held their daughter, according to the police report filed with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department Sunday. The report said she had “obvious signs on her face and arms of assault against her.”

Rep. Hawk said he did not know where the bruises or the gun came from.

Hawk said he will speak with House GOP leadership about whether he should retain his chairmanship. “There is still a lot of water that must go under the bridge before that decision (can) be made,” he said.

He has a court date set for May 21.

Sen. Burks Sponsors Bill To Protect Domestic Violence Victims

Press Release from Sen. Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey; April 5, 2010:

Legislation Lets Victims End Lease Agreements, Relocate More Easily

NASHVILLE – Victims of domestic abuse would be able to end lease contracts early and flee their abusers under a bill sponsored by Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey).

“Escaping a dangerous environment is the best way a domestic violence victim can prevent future abuse,” Burks said. “Victims should have the right to relocate for the safety of themselves and their children.”

The bill (SB902/HB323) would allow a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking to terminate a lease upon submitting an order of protection, a police or medical report, or a written report from a domestic violence or child abuse agency.

In a survey of domestic violence shelters and legal service agencies cited by the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, nearly two-thirds reported they had worked with victims who wanted to break their leases out of safety concerns. In one case, a woman wasn’t allowed to break her apartment lease after being raped by a tenant in the same building.

Two-thirds of the surveyed shelters and agencies also said they had worked with victims who were evicted after incidents of domestic violence. On several occasions, women were evicted for calling the police.

“It is shameful that victims of domestic violence would be blamed for the abuse perpetrated against them. It’s a clear sign of a broken system that needs to be fixed,” Burks said.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.