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.