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9.28.2011

Topeka, KS – City Plans to “Decriminalize” Domestic Violence and Repeal the City Ordinance Making Domestic Battery a Crime!

Domestic battery ordinance repeal to be taken up

http://cjonline.com/news/local/2011-09-27/domestic-battery-ordinance-repeal-be-taken Back | Next

Interim city manager Dan Stanley spoke Tuesday evening at a work session where the Topeka City Council discussed how to react to District Attorney Chad Taylor's decision to stop prosecuting misdemeanors committed in Topeka, including domestic batteries.  TIM HRENCHIR/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

TIM HRENCHIR/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Interim city manager Dan Stanley spoke Tuesday evening at a work session where the Topeka City Council discussed how to react to District Attorney Chad Taylor's decision to stop prosecuting misdemeanors committed in Topeka, including domestic batteries.

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By Tim Hrenchir

THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL

Interim city manager Dan Stanley hoped to see Topeka's governing body reach a consensus Tuesday on how to deal with Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor's decision to stop prosecuting misdemeanors committed in the capital city, including domestic battery.

That didn't happen, Stanley said after a work session Tuesday evening focusing on that topic.

Stanley said he will continue the discussion next week, when he will arrange for the governing body to hear the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would repeal the part of city ordinance making domestic battery a crime.

Such a move would force the district attorney to handle the prosecution of those who commit domestic battery in Topeka, according to the city attorney's office.

Council members John Alcala, Sylvia Ortiz, Chad Manspeaker, Bob Archer and Andrew Gray each indicated at the work session they could support repealing the domestic battery ordinance.

"If the D.A. thinks that we don't want to play hardball, I say we all suit up and play hardball," Manspeaker said.

Alcala said, however, that he also could support entering into a one-time arrangement for 2012 through which the city, the county commission and the district attorney enter into a "friendly compromise" to share prosecution costs.

Stanley said after Tuesday's session that he saw no clear direction from a majority of the governing body on what to do and would continue the discussion when the governing body next week hears the first reading of the proposal to repeal the domestic battery ordinance.

Governing body members generally act on proposed ordinances one week after they are heard for first reading.

Taylor announced Sept. 8 that he would no longer prosecute  misdemeanors committed in Topeka, including domestic battery, saying his action required the city attorney's office to prosecute the cases his office would no longer handle, an obligation Stanley said the city isn't prepared to execute.

Stanley told governing body members last week the city's options included:

■ Seeking some period of transition while the city develops a program for prosecuting and providing services related to domestic battery cases.

■ Seeking to negotiate an agreement through which the city would pay some costs to help finance the district attorney's prosecution of misdemeanors.

■ Trying to force the district attorney to prosecute.

Stanley said the proposal on next week's agenda for first reading would  pursue the latter strategy by seeking to repeal the ordinance banning domestic battery the council adopted as part of the uniform public offense code developed by the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Chief city prosecutor Craig Spomer said the city may repeal the section regarding domestic battery while leaving the rest of the code in place.

Spomer said Topeka police officers filing reports on cases regarding domestic battery have written them up "since the beginning" under the state statute banning that crime instead of under the city ordinance.

He said the city "for a lot of years" hasn’t prosecuted domestic batteries, as the district attorney's office has handled those.

In response to a question from Councilwoman Denise Everhart, Spomer said the city's repeal of its domestic battery ordinance wouldn't necessarily mean Taylor would choose to prosecute the cases involved.

Everhart  asked Stanley about his statement  reported in The Topeka Capital-Journal last week that if he had to pick from among the city's options, he would arrange for it to assume prosecution of the domestic battery cases.

Stanley replied that he would choose that option "in a perfect world that I could construct with infinite money, the perfect court and perfect support system," though that isn’t what the city faces.

Stanley also told the governing body he had had discussions with county officials and senses "there is a willingness to negotiate something that is fair to all."

Tim Hrenchir can be reached

at (785) 295-1184

or tim.hrenchir@cjonline.com.

Manspeaker?

By dragooncreek | 09/27/11 - 09:45 pm

"If the D.A. thinks that we don't want to play hardball, I say we all suit up and play hardball," Manspeaker said.

Who votes for these clowns?

This is not a game. The County Commission votes to cut the DA's budget by 10% in a department that is 95% wages. That means that people are let go and that means jobs don't get done. Because all the DA does is prosecute crimes that means that some crimes don't get prosecuted by the DA. So then it makes sense that if DA is not going to prosecute some cases the DA should start cutting the cases that the city can prosecute. What is the alternative? The DA prosecutes the misdemeanor cases and lets Stanley take on the murders, rapes, home invasions, and pedophiles? Sure. That's a great idea.

But now the City Commission wants Topeka to be the only city in Kansas that decriminalizes beating the ********** out of your wife? That will certainly draw in the good jobs.

This whole thing is stupid. The new DA comes in and re-energizes the office. Clears a huge backlog left by the last DA and greatly increases the number of cases that are charged and prosecuted in the county. The county leaders, led by Miller and an overwhelming fear of doing their jobs, arbitrarily picks a number and cuts the department budgets across the board. Then they pretend to be mystified that these cuts have consequences. The city, which has known about this problem since it started being discussed this Spring, then acts surprised that all of a sudden it has to enforce its ordinances. Finally we have some Transplant Stanley make a bunch of ignorant, half baked statements about laws he clearly knows nothing about before declaring that he would love to prosecute violations of the city ordinances - if only he could, but since he can't Topeka will just have to make beating your wife legal in Topeka (but not in Shawnee County).

I got an idea. We want crimes prosecuted, we want potholes filled, we want bangers arrested, we want shorter lines at the car registration office - we need to pay for it. And if we can't pay for it all then we either need to thoughtfully prioritize what services get fully funded or we need to kick in a little extra to cover the basics. We have clowns playing games and posturing instead of leading this community. It is time Topeka elected serious people to office who are prepared to do serious work.