Catherine Gonzalez, age 23, was forced to go to court to get an order that her husband pay child support, an application that is brought routinely in family law courts across North America, when a parent refuses to pay support voluntarily.
Her husband Paul Gonzalez Jr., a former Marine, was enraged when Judge Geoffrey Cohen made the order and stormed out of the Judge’s chambers. But he returned, and attacked his wife, in front of Judge Cohen and her lawyer, pummeling his wife with his fists. Ms. Gonzalez suffered significant injuries including a broken nose, a broken jaw, a torn lip, a concussion, and severe bruises to her face and eyes.
The beating ended with the intervention of Ms. Gonzalez’s lawyer and court bailiffs who confronted Mr. Gonzalez with a stun gun.
This week Mr. Gonzalez was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the brutal assault on his wife, despite testimony from the a psychologist that he suffered from bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Judge Cohen was particularly incensed by Mr. Gonzalez’s attack in a court of law, where participants had every right to feel safe. The sentence he imposed was more than three times Florida’s maximum sentence for aggravated battery.
Earlier, Ms. Gonzalez had sought a restraining order against her husband but couldn’t persuade a judge to make that order.
In courts in British Columbia where counsel are concerned that one of the parties may become violent, a special request is made to ensure that a sheriff is in the courtroom during the hearing.
It is a shame that Ms. Gonzalez’s fear of her husband’s threatening behavior was not taken seriously, by anyone.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang