Wednesday, August 23, 2017

People v. Button (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 17, 2017)

Every bad relationship is bad in different ways.  As well as sad.  And any such relationship you learn about by reading about it in a Court of Appeal opinion is almost necessarily especially bad and sad.

This is not your typical domestic assault case.  It's nonetheless depressing in its own way.  If only because, in addition to the violence, you can palpably intuit the emotions that the victim must have had even before being punched.

Here are the facts:

"At the time of the charged offenses, Button and the victim, B.D., were students at Palomar College. They had been in a dating relationship for approximately a year and a half and had previously been engaged. Their engagement ended a couple of weeks prior to the incident giving rise to the charged offenses.

Although their engagement had ended, on the day before the incident, Button and B.D. had sexual intercourse. According to B.D., Button told B.D. that they could continue to be "lovers" if she would agree not to reveal the nature of their relationship to anyone.

The next day, B.D. and Button had a class together. During class, B.D. learned that a group of Button's friends were going to a restaurant after class. One of the friends invited B.D. to come along. While B.D. was gathering her belongings after class, everyone left without her. Shortly thereafter, B.D. called Button a couple of times and sent him some text messages. She received no immediate response.

Later that day, B.D. received a call from Button. B.D. asked Button to meet her so that they could talk. They agreed to meet in front of a building on campus. When Button arrived to the meeting, he appeared to be very upset. His hands were clenched and his face and voice conveyed anger. Button accused B.D. of telling two of his friends that they were still dating. B.D. denied the accusation, and Button called her a liar.

B.D. took off her glasses because she was crying. She then stepped forward with her arms open in order to give Button a hug. Button grabbed both of B.D.'s biceps and began squeezing her. B.D. was shocked and struggled to get free. Once B.D. escaped Button's grasp, she slapped Button across the face with an open hand.

Button immediately punched B.D. in the face, twice. B.D.'s hands were at her sides at the time Button punched her. B.D. bent over and blood rushed into her mouth. Immediately after the incident, the two walked to a health services office on campus."

That factual recitation for some reason struck me as especially depressing.  Perhaps because you had a guy who told his former fiancee that he was willing to still have sex with her only if she agreed not to tell anyone they were still doing so, and she agreed.  Informed also by the fact, revealed later in the opinion, that "there was evidence that B.D. outweighed Button by 120 pounds."

And further informed by the fact that B.D.'s injuries were serious ones:  she suffered a concussion as well as three acute fractures of her facial bones.

Depressing all around.