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Jennifer K. v. Shane K.: Domestic Violence/ Gender Bias

Title:
In re the Matter of Jennifer K. v. Shane K.  (Domestic Violence / Gender Bias)

Court:
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division Two

Citation:
Published Opinion, (2020) 47 Cal.App.5th 558

File Date:
04/07/2020

Description:
Jennifer K., former girlfriend of Shane K., appeals the denial of her request for DVRO and requests remand to a different judge. There are two issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in finding that Shane’s alleged acts did not constitute abuse within the DVPA; and (2) whether gender bias disqualified the judicial officer as a matter of due process. 

Jennifer claims the court erred as a matter of law by concluding that Shane had not intended to hit her when he punched the refrigerator; it was sufficient that his conduct made her fear imminent injury. However, case law does not support her claims. It is not necessary for Jennifer to show that Shane intentionally caused or attempted to cause bodily injury in order to obtain a DVRO; but alternatively she must establish that Shane’s act was “reckless” or that it placed her “in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury.” Substantial evidence supports the court’s finding that Jennifer failed to show that she was abused within the meaning of the DVPA, and therefore the court did not abuse its discretion. 

Jennifer also claims that the order should be set aside because she was denied her right to an impartial factfinder in that the judge “appears to have believed that only forcible rape counts as ‘real’ rape, and that women who have really been raped will report it contemporaneously. Because sexual stereotypes and rape myths infected his decisions making, there is a high probability that his decision was the result of actual bias.”

The Court of Appeal stated that a showing of actual bias is not required, but the mere appearance of bias is insufficient. “The probability of actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmaker [that] is too high to be constitutionally tolerable, must be ‘based on an objective assessment of the circumstances in the particular case.’” The trial court’s conclusion is amply supported by the evidence and not a result of gender bias. 

Opinion: Jennifer K. v. Shane K. 4-7-20

The case listed here was not handled by Walzer Melcher unless the description states that Walzer Melcher appeared as counsel.