Posted On: February 8, 2012

Judge Sentences Husband to Take His Wife on a Date

A Florida judge has sentenced a Plantation husband to take his wife on a date for a domestic violence incident that began as a marital spat when he forgot to wish her a happy birthday. As reported in the SunSentinel, Broward County Judge John Hurley ordered the man to stop for flowers on his way home, then pick up his wife and take her on a date to dinner at Red Lobster followed by a night of bowling. He also ordered the couple to commence marriage counseling within a week.

The judge defended his sentence by saying that he determined the incident was relatively minor, there were no prior arrests, and the man's wife was not injured nor afraid of him. The judge said that he would not have made such an order if the incident were more serious, and he believed this sentence was a "better resolution than other alternatives."

Domestic violence is obviously a serious problem, not only here in California but across the country. And, the courts clearly need to address it in a meaningful manner by protecting victims of violence, along with imposing some form of punishment and treatment (e.g. counseling) on the perpetrators in an effort to prevent a reoccurrence of the violence. In doing so, judges are afforded a wide range of discretion. This judge used his discretion to evaluate the situation and made orders he believed were appropriate under the circumstances. It certainly will be interesting to watch and see whether his orders are effective for this particular couple.

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Posted On: February 7, 2012

Gary Sparks to Return as a Special Guest on the Ronn Owens Program This Week

For those of you who missed Gary's first appearance on the Ronn Owens Program (on KGO-AM 810) this past September, or those who want to listen in again, he will be returning as Ronn's guest this upcoming Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at 10:00 am. Once again, Ronn and Gary will be discussing California family law and divorce issues, and fielding calls from throughout the greater Bay Area and Northern California.

Ronn Owens hosts the top-rated program on KGO-AM and recently celebrated his 35th anniversary with the station. Ronn recently won the 2010 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year, and has truly become a Bay Area icon.

You can read more about Ronn at his website ( or on FaceBook (

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Posted On: February 7, 2012

Appeals Court Finds California's Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

The 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals in San Francisco today upheld the ruling by a lower federal court that California's controversial Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The Court held that Proposition 8 denies same-sex couples the right to a civil marriage in violation of the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and "serves no purpose... than to lessen the status of gays and lesbians in California..."

Supporters of Proposition 8 say they are prepared to take the matter all the way to the United States Supreme Court. And, despite today's ruling, a "stay" remains in place preventing the order from going into effect (allowing same-sex couples to marry) until the appeals process has been exhausted or further court order.

Additionally, the 9th Circuit found no reason that U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker should have either recused himself from the underlying case or disclosed his own sexual orientation prior to taking the case. Walker, who is gay, was found to have properly heard, analyzed and ruled on the case. Supporters of Proposition 8 also tried previously to have Walker's ruling that the law was unconstitutional thrown out to no avail.

This matter is by no means resolved, and may very likely result in an ultimate appeal to the United States Supreme Court. However, at first read, it appears that the 9th Circuit based their analysis, in large part, on the specific circumstances here in California that led to Proposition 8 in the first place; that is, the history of permitting domestic partnerships and extending marital rights to registered domestic partners (without the title) and eventually the ruling by the California Supreme Court that same-sex couples were entitled to marry under the California state constitution. Accordingly, there is a possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court may consider the ruling to apply only in California and not to other states as a whole.

Stay tuned, there's definitely more to come.

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