I should have learned from Highlands history that my assault would never be remedied.

    Everyone in Highlands knows the stories of the mayor or his son who beat up a guy in a drunken stupor on the bus hired to take people around town after the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Everyone knows the story of the councilperson who was assaulted on the bus but never pressed charges, alleging she didn't know who punched her in the back. Everyone knows the story of the other passenger with a broken limb allegedly broken by the same mayor or his son. The list goes on.    

   But believing in justice, I still pursued criminal assault charges in the proper American way when I was assaulted by the relative of a council person after an abruptly shut down council meeting. I still believed in America, still believed that wrongs could be righted, still believed that America's court system is honest and fair.

    I should have known better when I was told at the police department I wasn't entitled to a copy of the police report. I should have known better when I was told not to bother filing an OPRA because I still wouldn't get it. I should have known better when I was told they lost my complaint and I'd have to go back down to file it again. But I still believed in American justice.

    I still believed when I researched the law and found the assault on me by the councilman's relative fit the exact definition of a criminal act "an attempt to create reasonable apprehension of imminent harm that is either harmful or offensive.  The definition of battery is "harmful or offensive touching of another." There were witnesses who observed the councilman's relative come up behind me, shove me, put me off balance and further attempt to intimidate me with loud and abusive language. There are witnesses to attest to the physical injury I sustained from the assault. 

   I still believed when I was told a alternate judge would have to hear the matter because some of my witnesses were members of the governing body; I even still believed when the alternate judge failed to show at the appointed day and time. Not once but twice.

    Call me naïve, but I still believed in the American justice system. Even when the Court clerk  told me there was going to be a probable cause hearing and I should go to it. I only learned that information because I happened to stop in court to get an update on my charge.

   That probable cause hearing by the judge who had failed to show twice before only took a few minutes, while he listened to my story and I still believed. I began to be a bit surprised when the judge made a decision on the spot. No probable cause. No reason for a trial. No way I, an American with witnesses, should have my day in court. and No, he didn't know why I couldn't get a copy of that police report I had been after for months. And I learned it wasn't even necessary for him to listen to my witnesses. Or anybody else.  

      So now I look at the Division of Criminal Justice definition of Crime Victim's rights and I am beginning not to believe.

       "Procedures shall be established to ensure that victims are periodically informed of the status and closing investigations." Other than the call to tell me my complaint was lost the Friday before the court date, I was not periodically informed of anything.

      "Every victim of violent crime should be provided with certain basic information shortly after the crime is reported either by mail or through personal contact. The victim should be informed of the name of the investigator in charge of the case and how to reach him/her, the case number or other department data retrieval information and when the case has been reassigned to a different investigator. "  That's what the law says a crime victim has a right to. Yet I can't even get a copy of the police report the chief offered to write.

    I still believe in America. What's troubling me now is.  Is Highlands really still in America?  Do not Highlands elected officials, employees and court representatives have to follow the same laws as the rest of America?

   Is there any justice for a crime victim?

 

Carol Bucco

Highlands, NJ