CSJ Student Wins a Case for Domestic Violence Victim
Marita Kosek '10
It was during her summer internship at South Brooklyn Legal Services that Marita was drawn to the needs and cases of victims of domestic violence. "There's something incredibly rewarding about standing up for a client and empowering her."
In October 2009, as a student in the Center for Social Justice Family Law Clinic, Marita took on the case of a woman with physical and mental disabilities whose estranged husband had beaten her in front of their one-year-old son.
Supported by Professor Jessica Miles, Marita represented her client in New Jersey Superior Court to secure a permanent restraining order against the husband. During an evidentiary hearing, the judge took over direct examination of the witnesses, but Marita had the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. "We had photographs that had been taken after the assault, and I wanted to be sure the judge saw the full extent of the violence my client's husband had inflicted on her."
The defendant's testimony lent further credibility to Marita's client's story. "His undoing was that he just could not explain the photographs."
Marita's zealous advocacy resulted in the client obtaining a final restraining order against her estranged husband and full custody of the child with no visitation for the defendant pending a risk assessment. Marita gave a compelling closing argument, and once the judge ruled on custody and the restraining order, Marita requested and was able to secure court-ordered child-support payments as well.
Marita feels gratified that a relationship has grown between her and her client. "When we finished, she asked me to help her get a divorce, so I'm beginning that process." The risk assessment hearing will take place in December 2009.