Steve MB - where are all the domestic violence victims???

In this GD thread from last year, Steve MB, among others, argued that Virginia should not adopt a “Defense of Marriage” constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriage, because, he opined, it would cause the loss of domestic violence legal protections to unmarried persons living together. He opined that if it passed:

I said in response:

I grant that we’re not quite at the one-year mark.

Still, to my knowledge, the ill predicted by Steve MB has not come to pass at all… no wonky applications of the domestic violence law in Virginia have ensued based on the Defense of Marriage amendment.

Well, Steve MB? Any chance you were wrong about this?

Wonky? Yes.

You forgot to quote the part where Steve agreed to your terms of one year (give or take a few weeks). Or that the reports be published. (Couldn’t they be simply a matter of public record?) Or maybe the full impact of the change in the law can’t be known in a year.

Looks to me like this thread is about an unanswered challenge resurrected eleven months later for no particular reason.

Restless, Bricker?

There is no “give or take a few weeks” in the terms.

Nope; this thread is Bricker watching Eurydice vanish into the pit, knowing that it happened because of his own impatience after having made a deal with a tough but honest negotiator who is not giving him any do-overs.

It’s true that Steve never said, “I accept your terms.”

But it’s also true that he made claims about what would happen if Virginia passed the “Defense of Marriage” amendment. And it’s true that almost a year later, those claims have not come to pass.

So it’s perfectly fair to now ask: what about the predictions you made, Steve MB, last year? Why haven’t we seen domestic violence victims unable to get justice because of this new law, as you confidently predicted last year?

Do you believe we will, but it just hasn’t happened yet? Do you believe that your analysis last year was flawed? Is there some other nuance that you’d like to share?


You realize that as the founder of the thread, the onus is upon you to prove that Steve’s speculation has proven incorrect, rather than upon Steve to prove that he was correct. Also, Steve would be well within his rights to hold out for a future date some years hence before conceding defeat on this point.

I’m reasonably well plugged in to the Virginia criminal justice system, a nostalgic nod to my days as a criminal defense lawyer in Virginia. I subscribe to a number of publications that would certainly have reported a trial at which this issue was raised. I haven’t seen any such reporting. So it seems to me that if you (or he) take the position that is HAS happened, it would be for you (or he) to cite the particular case.

If the position he (or you) take is that a year is not sufficient time to see the predicted results, my question would be – why? Surely we’ve had domestic violence arrests and convictions for assaults between unmarried persons in the past year. Surely those people accused were represented by counsel. Surely, if there were any legal footing to the claims, they would have been raised at trial already?

I grant that a year is not enough time for a final case to make its way through the appellate court system. But a year is plenty of time for the necessary first step: a trial court dismissing a charge based on the new law. It’s unclear to me why you, or anyone, would feel that a longer time is necessary for that to occur. And if you do – how long? At what point would you concede that it’s not going to happen? 15 months? Two years? Three years?

Since what Bricker is saying is that there have been no “wonky applications of the domestic violence law in Virginia have ensued based on the Defense of Marriage amendment”, you’re basically asking him to cite each domestic violence case in Virginia during the past eleven months and explaining why each one either isn’t wonky or isn’t due to the Defense of Marriage amendment. I think it would be much simpler if Steve MB, if indeed he is claiming that such cases have surfaced which he hasn’t yet said that he is, showed such a case.

In this, you’re absolutely right.


Where did you learn debate?

It’s generally not for the proponent to prove a broad negative assertion – how could that be done? I can say, as I have above, that I subscribe to a number of different periodic publications that report new developments in the Virginia criminal justice system, and that no such case has been reported. Beyond that, what possible evidence could I adduce that would DISprove the claim?

No, if Steve says it’s happened, it’s for him to show where it’s happened.

Now, your point about holding out for a future point is certainly valid. But I would ask you the exact question I asked above: why? We’ve had domestic violence arrests and convictions for assaults between unmarried persons in the past year. The people accused were represented by counsel. Why haven’t such defenses been raised at trial, if there were any legal footing to the claims?

Sure, Steve could say, “I won’t concede the point until fifty years have elapsed.” But I think anyone reading this would agree that this would not represent a good-faith belief in his claim. It’s obvious that after a certain time has passed, it’s fair to say, “I was wrong; this law WON’T produce this result.” Certainly, when the discussion was underway, the implication in his words was that this would be relatively immediate; there was never a hint of “…years from now, this law will cause domestic violence victims grief…”

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, we all of us prognosticate a little too freely – I do it myself (and no, the Yankees didn’t end up winning the AL East) – without being held much to account. But on the other hand, it’s a bit unsettling that Bricker has been nursing this minor grudge for an entire year. I think the rest of us would have forgotten about it the day after it happened.

I thought that the argument that Virginia amendment would lead to an increase of domestic violence was scaremongering against an admittedly foolish piece of legislation.

I haven’t heard any reports about this defense being raised in either the Washington Post or any where else. Are there any reports about this being used or appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court?

ETA- Bricker, if you don’t mind answering, which county did you practice in?

Maybe he put it on his calendar, like I did with when my 10 years after a fender-bender was due to come off my car insurance.*

*Does that even make sense? 10 years after a car accident, it comes off your driving record if you haven’t had any since then, so your insurance rates go down here.

No, I hadn’t thought about this until yesterday, when a search on another topic entirely (Ohio-related, for those interested) found that old thread and reminded me of the issue.

I do have a file that I keep to remind me when bets I’ve made here come due, but this never got to that stage – although obviously I wish it had.

And – are you seriously suggesting that people can debate an issue by making dire predictions in order to persuade the audience that a particular course should (or should not) be chosen, and then never be held accountable for that prediction because “we all of us prognosticate a little too freely?” Even if I had, as you speculated, been nursing this minor grudge for a year, do you believe that is of more imprtance than the actual issue here?

Not at all – my practice was Arlington County, City of Alexandria, Fairfax County (and City of Falls Church, which in those days was part of the 19th Judicial District; cases from the General District Court in Falls Church went to the Circuit Court in Fairfax County – these days, Falls Church is in the 17th, Arlington). I did a bit of work in Prince William and Stafford, and an even tinier bit in Loudon and Facquier, but my primary stomping grounds were Fairfax and Arlington.

It seems to me that the direness of a prediction is usually in inverse proportion to how seriously people will take it. In other words, when people make dire predictions, particularly about a piece of legislation, I generally dismiss them, with no follow-up really asked for or needed. Where the prediction is more modest, it then becomes more arguable, and resolving whether the prediction did or did not come to pass becomes more iffy.

In the case being discussed here, is it your sense that people were swayed by Steve MB’s dire prediction? Because if not, I would say, let it go.

Not sure what you mean by “swayed.” I doubt there was any participant on this board who would have been in favor of the legislation, but because of Steve MB’s prediction began to oppose it. But I suspect there was more than one person who believed he had the right of it – that these dire effects would come to pass. Whether they were predisposed to believe anything bad about legislation they disagreed with, or whether Steve’s words were responsible for creating the idea, I don’t have any way to speculate – indeed, my idea that there were such people is mostly speculation; I could only point to monica as someone who appeared to believe the same thing Steve was saying.

In any event, that’s not quite satisfactory to me, for reasons I’m having a hard time articulating. I guess I have a strongly negative visceral reaction to the idea that the guy can argue so vociferously that X will happen if we do Y, and then later, after we’ve done Y and no instance of X emerges, the reaction is, “Meh - let it go.”

I actually went back and combed through the thread in question. Bricker’s last post to Steve MB, on October 30, said, “I’m willing to bet you that two years [bolding mine] from now, there will be NO - zero - decisions of precedential weight that vitiate the domestic violence laws based on this amendment. Are we on?” Steve MB never accepted.

Bricker, FWIW, I think you were right on the narrow issue under discussion. But I find there’s something a little unbecoming about opening a Pit thread to crow about being right (if right you are), under the pretence that there’s a bet that needs settling. The sin of pride, I’d call it.

I don’t know. To me, thinking that this is “unsettling” and “unbecoming” sort of comes off as faint hearted and pansy assed.

A fair amount of time HAS to pass before you can call someone on a bullshit prediction. All this “you still care???” stuff is simply idiotic, imho.

There’s no pretense that there’s any bet that needs settling. I suppose you could say I’m crowing about being right, but more importantly, here, I’m seeking an admission that Steve was wrong. Since he very clearly refused to concede the possibility when the debate was occurring, I think it’s right to ask if he now concedes it.

And if his position is that two years are needed, I could accept that. I’m not going anywhere.

But I think the fair-minded thing to do would be to acknowledge that, in fact, that prediction was scare-mongering, and hasn’t come to pass, and is not likely TO come to pass. if he believes, in good faith, that another year is needed before we can truly reach that concession, I’m OK with that.

I don’t know, I could see running a search on something else, being reminded of this thread, and coming back to it.

Continuing my hijack, which county did you prefer to practice in? I don’t and haven’t done criminal work but I don’t like being in Fairfax because it seems like a small town court that tried to scale up and has kept the worst of both worlds.

If its not too personal, why did you quit doing criminal work?