Brooklyn Law School hosts domestic violence discussion with Justice Leventhal
Brooklyn Law School (BLS) hosted a discussion on domestic violence where alumnus Hon. John M. Leventhal and Professor Elizabeth Schneider addressed the subject, as well as Leventhal’s new book “My Partner, My Enemy: An Unflinching View of Domestic Violence and New Ways to Protect Victims,” in Downtown Brooklyn on Monday night.
“I really got a lot out of this book and if you haven’t read it yet, I urge you all to do it,” said Nicholas W. Allard, dean of BLS. “He is the Sergeant Joe Friday of authors. He isn’t opinionated, it’s not argumentative, he lays out the facts and it is a compelling story.
“The scope of this problem is enormous,” Allard continued. “I’m very proud that our own Judge John Leventhal has had such a positive impact, and the [Felony Domestic Violence Court] that he helped setup and presided over has become a template for other courts throughout this state and others. But much work remains to be done.”
After Allard introduced Leventhal, a BLS graduate in 1979, and Schneider, a Rose L. Hoffer Professor of Law at BLS and co-author of “Domestic Violence and the Law,” Schneider and Leventhal each had a chance to address the audience. Leventhal gave a brief overview of his book and Schneider spoke about the ways that BLS is helping to eradicate domestic violence.
In his talk, Leventhal addressed the issues, including attitudes of male entitlement that he said are the root of the problem. He also talked about the Felony Domestic Violence Court and how he, and later Judge Matthew D’Emic, had tried to address the issues.
“One of the first things that I wanted to implement into the court was to bring those in probation back to court periodically for the first year, year and a half,” Leventhal explained. “What did that do? Judge D’Emic and I were able to reduce the violation rate of our probations by 50 percent compared to the general population over a 10-year period. That was successful. We did a lot of other innovative things.”
After brief speeches from each panelist, Leventhal and Schneider took questions from the audience. One came from Judge Esther Morgenstern, who was wondering where the best place to start a discussion would be when she travels to South Korea for a talk on domestic violence.
“Talk about all of the great things we’re doing,” Prof. Schneider said. “Start by telling them how far we’ve come and what we did to get here.”
After all of the bad statistics and anecdotes, Leventhal pointed to how far the issue has come since 1994 and reminded everyone how pervasive the problem was and still is.
“One of the things I learned early is that although it’s criminal, although domestic violence is sociological, behavioral, psychological, verbal, emotional abuse it is really a matter of attitude and male entitlement,” he said. “This is a matter of attitudes and they aren’t going to be changed quickly — more like glacially. Even the Beatles had lyrics, ‘Run for your life, little girl / If I see you with another man, little girl / You’ll be dead, little girl.’”
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