Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maryland Judge Marries Alleged Domestic Violence Perpetrator and Victim

Advocates for abused women reacted with outrage Thursday after learning that a Baltimore County judge had enabled a 29-year-old man to be found not guilty of assault when he officiated at the marriage of the defendant and the woman he was accused of beating.

Another judge who waived the required 48-hour waiting period between the issuance of the marriage license and the wedding ceremony did not know the circumstances, according to that judge and a court official.

"It's appalling," said Lisae C. Jordan, general counsel for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "We know to anticipate that behavior from batterers, but to have the judiciary involved in assisting a batterer is just appalling."

Frederick D. Wood had been charged with second-degree assault after his fiancee claimed that on Nov. 29 he hit her in the face, bloodied her nose, kicked her and banged her head against a wall at his home in Middle River.

But when the domestic violence case against him came up for trial on March 10, District Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr. allowed Wood to leave his courtroom in Essex to obtain a marriage license. Before the day was over, Russell married Wood and his fiancee in his chambers. The woman then invoked marital privilege so that she would not be required to testify against her husband, and Russell found Wood not guilty.

"Here's somebody who is clearly injured. And the authority figure, rather than acting neutrally or doing something to help protect her, pushed her into more entanglement with the alleged batterer," said Dorothy Lennig, longtime director of the legal clinic at the House of Ruth, which helps battered women and their children.

Read more here.


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Absent is any comment by the complaining witness, or any indication that Ms. Lennig or Ms. Jordan had ever met her, spoken to her, or that either had any knowledge of any of the underlying facts of the case beyond a news report.

I've long advocated making it substantially harder to get married, and easier to get divorced, but it's generally assumed that I'm being satirical.

Posted by: R Gould-Saltman | Mar 30, 2010 2:10:45 PM

I don't understand why anyone would want to marry someone who abused them. Please just stay away from them! nothing good can come out of it!

Posted by: orange county domestic violence attorney | Jul 27, 2012 11:46:52 AM

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