CNN iReport: PR Supreme Court: It’s not domestic violence if you’re cheating
On March 23rd, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court handed down a decision denying Carmen Romero Pérez protection under the Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Law (Law 54–Ley 54) because her attacker was her lover and not the man to whom she was married.
In May of 2006, José Miguel Flores Flores intercepted Romero Pérez as she was driving, cut her off, took her keys, got into her car, and fought with and hit her. When she tried to get out of the car, he grabbed her arm, pulled her by the hair, and tried to choke her. Flores Flores was charged, and when his case went to court his lawyer argued that the relationship between the victim and the accused was not covered under Ley 54. An appellate court agreed, and after yesterday’s split decision in the Supreme Court, this ruling will be upheld.
The decision turns, in essence, on what counts as a “couple”. Ley 54 was passed with the clear intention of protecting people, especially women, from domestic violence, defined in the law as:
…the use of physical force or psychological violence, intimidation, or persecution against a person on the part of her/his spouse, ex-spouse, a person with whom s/he lives or has lived, with whom s/he has or has had a consensual relationship, or a person with who s/he has had a child… (8 L.P.R.A. sec. 602.)
The opinion establishing the exclusion includes this excerpt and interprets it to mean that the law “was limited to violence in the marital sphere or between couples or exes,” adding in a wild logical leap that the legislative intention was to “protect the integrity of the family and its members.” Romero Pérez was already married, so although she and Flores Flores had been seeing one another for nearly a year at the time of the attack, that relationship falls outside the familial context–they weren’t a “couple”–and is thus not covered. It’s cool though, the opinion says. This is covered under other laws.