Tuesday, March 17, 2020
In 2009, the Kentucky General Assembly rushed to enact changes to the Commonwealth’s domestic violence statutes. The legislation, House Bill One, known as the Amanda Ross Domestic Violence Protection Act, or Amanda’s Law, was in response to the murder of Amanda Ross. Within six months of obtaining a domestic violence order (DVO), Ms. Ross was dead. She had been murdered by her ex-fiancée, Steve Nunn, a former Kentucky State Representative. Amanda’s Law amended the domestic violence statutes in a few significant ways, but the most significant change was the ability of the court to order the offender to wear a Global Positioning Monitoring System (GPMS) device. The court could order this type of tracking after being presented with evidence that the offender had committed a substantial violation of the previous order.
The irony of Amanda’s Law is that, even if it had been in effect when she was brutally shot down outside of her home, it would not have had any impact on her survival. This is because the statute requires the following: that a DVO be entered, that the offender have committed a criminal offense against the survivor in violation of the DVO, that the domestic violence survivor then go back to the court issuing the original DVO with evidence of the criminal conduct, and that the survivor make a showing to the court that this conviction qualifies as a substantial violation of the court’s domestic violence order. Only then will the issuing court consider a GPMS be used. Amanda Ross had not achieved any of these steps prior to her death. As such, this knee-jerk reaction by the Kentucky legislature would not have helped her. In the nine years since its passage, a GPMS has been ordered only three times pursuant to Amanda’s Law. The law is a failure in this respect and needs to be amended.