The county attorney who argued before the Supreme Court against a controversial provision of a spouse-abuse law said he's disappointed with Monday's ruling, but he will tell the county sheriff to enforce the law.
Jerry Hess, Davis County deputy civil attorney, said, "Obviously the court has spoken and we'll send a letter to the sheriff instructing that they should enforce the no-contact provision of the legislation," said Hess.County Attorney Mel Wilson said it's unfortunate that the state court didn't address the constitutional questions raised, choosing instead to simply order compliance, Wilson said.
"I think it's unfortunate we haven't addressed the merits of this piece of legislation. All this decision does is prolong the process," Wilson said. "I think it's also important for residents of the county to know that we've always encouraged the sheriff's department in its pro-active, pro-arrest stance in domestic violence situations."
Hess said he's concerned that the county is suffering from a public relations problem over the challenge, that people mistakenly believe the county doesn't care about abused or battered spouses.
The sheriff's department has been enforcing the law's other provisions, including arresting abusive spouses, Hess said.
"The county has taken a vigorous posture in enforcing the arrest portion of the spouse abuse law. The only thing we did was instruct the sheriff's department to be careful of the no-contact provision because of what we felt was a legal cloud over it," said Hess.
Hess said he expects there could be a legal challenge to the no-contact provision of the legislation in the future, perhaps through a lawsuit against the sheriff's department or another police agency.
"We're in good shape now to defend ourselves, though," said Hess. "We have a an order right from the state Supreme Court commanding us to enforce the law."