A few thoughts on the Ray Rice situation

There’s been so much discussion on the Ray Rice situation in the U.S., I can’t help but feel the need to add to it.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
  1. Provocation is NOT a defence to domestic violence.  It can, however, be a factor for a prosecutor and judge to consider in deciding what to do in a particular case. Here, it appear from the video that Janay Rice was in a brief physical, mutual confrontation with her husband in the elevator.  He steps back and she moves forward fairly quickly. That’s when he punches her once with what is clearly significant force.  That’s the context of the assault and may explain why she used the phrase “a moment in our lives that we regret” in describing the pain the media attention has caused her and her family;
  2. While undoubtedly there are women who have been serially abused by their husbands or may be in a position of complete dependence on their husbands for financial support, there are also women who have been involved in marriages where force has been used by both spouses.  And, further, there are women who may have been subjected to force on a single occasion occurring in circumstances of high emotional conflict or distress.  I know that’s the case as I’ve spoken to them, whether as my clients or the complainants in charges against my clients.  How many commentators have given Janay Rice the recognition that she may be one of those victims, someone who’s well-capable of expressing herself with the strength to decide whether or not she wants to continue in her relationship with the man she chose to marry notwithstanding this unfortunate incident?  I can’t help but think that she’d want to be afforded that respect by everyone outside her family;
  3. The whole world of NFL discipline is hard to follow.  For a review of the case to be completed and punishment imposed without a full picture of what happened is hard to fathom. For Commissioner Goodell’s appreciation of the harm that’s done by domestic violence to be adequately addressed by a suspension of only 2 games shows real insensitivity to public opinion. And then, once the video that his office may very well have had for months being made public, to revisit Rice’s case and change the punishment previously imposed, not for any new action but the very one for which he’d already served part of his suspension, is the height of hypocrisy.  The charge of child assault just initiated against Adrian Peterson no doubt have the Commissioner in a total quandary.  We’ll see what damage control initiatives follow next.
Jeffrey Manishen
Jeffrey Manishen
P: 905.572.5813