Dade Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence Unit; Advocates for Victims
After an argument at a party, “Kelly” and her boyfriend went home. Once home, Kelly tried to stay away from him, but he became irate and began punching her in the face. She ran to another room but he caught her and continued to beat her severely. After her boyfriend pounded seemingly endlessly on her face, Kelly’s son, who was home at the time, interrupted the attack and her boyfriend stopped. Kelly tried to find her cell phone to call police but her boyfriend had taken it. She ran to a neighbor’s house and they called police. The boyfriend was arrested and Kelly was transported by paramedics to the hospital. At the hospital she underwent 9 hours of surgery to repair the 4 broken bones in her face, including the installation of a metal plate.
Unfortunately this was not the first time her boyfriend was violent with her. In the past, he has hit her with a belt, held a sharpened stick to her neck and threatened to kill her. When she tried to leave him before, he would not let her go. However, now Kelly was determined to end the relationship and keep her boyfriend away from her permanently.
Kelly walked into Dade Legal Aid’s downtown office seeking help. With the assistance of Domestic Violence Project Attorney Steven Paulson, they prepared for the hearing on her Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. Once in Court, Mr. Paulson presented testimony and evidence that went far beyond what was required for the issuance of the Permanent Injunction. Kelly had provided Mr. Paulson with photographs of her injuries that were taken shortly after the incident. When the Judge saw the photos he commented that these injuries were the worst he had ever seen in 17 years on the bench of a victim that was still alive. During cross-examination of Kelly’s boyfriend, he admitted to the brutal beating. The Judge entered a Permanent Indefinite Restraining Order against Kelly’s boyfriend, preventing him from coming within 500 feet of her home, work or school, and preventing him from having any kind of contact with her, in person, text, email, 3rd party or otherwise. Because these hearings are recorded and Kelly’s boyfriend had pending criminal charges against him, Mr. Paulson contacted the State Attorneys Office to let them know he admitted to the beating and they could use the recording as evidence against him in the criminal case.
Dade Legal Aid currently has 3 full-time dedicated Domestic Violence Project attorneys serving victims in Miami-Dade County; Steven Paulson, Gina Beovides, and Michelle Ortiz. They are located in downtown Miami at Dade Legal Aid’s main office in the Dade County Bar Association Building, in the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center and in deep south Miami-Dade County at the M.U.J.E.R. offices. They cover hearings in the 4 court houses that conduct Domestic Violence hearings and represent over 1200 victims of Domestic Violence per year. In addition to representing victims in hearings, Dade Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence attorneys address many other issues and concerns for their clients including safety planning, crisis counseling, and direction and information regarding other services that are available to them.
From L – R, Gina Beovides, Esq., Steven Paulson, Esq. and Luisa Pena, assistant.
Not pictured, Michelle Ortiz, Esq.