When just a prosecutor in the early 1990s, Katherine Fernandez Rundle said a judge told a domestic violence victim she was lucky her husband missed when he tried to shoot her.
“It was the mindset of a lot of folks. And it wasn’t just the judiciary, it was everybody. So that meant we had to go on a learning curve,” said Fernandez Rundle speaking on the Anti-Social podcast.
Now the top prosecutor in Miami-Dade for three decades, Fernandez Rundle says domestic violence is no longer considered a minor matter. There are resources available to victims, ways to intercede before that bullet finds its target or the victim ends up in the hospital.
Still, obstacles remain. Women are still reluctant to speak out against their abuser, she said. The State Attorney’s website has a video of Fernandez Rundle telling the public domestic violence is not a family matter, but a crime and remains the most common killer of women in the United States.
Fernandez Rundle came on as a guest of Anti-Social after the Key Biscayne Independent published a story on the topic on a case that is winding its way through the courts. She said domestic violence cases are treated much differently than when she first started prosecuted cases.
“We have specialized units for misdemeanor, specialized units for felony domestic violence,” she said. “We have domestic violence courts that deal just with these cases, both civil and criminal. So we have come a long way.”
There are also shelters and the M.O.V.E.S. program – Mobile Operations Victim Emergency Services – which provides legal services. The Domestic Assistance Response Team responds to domestic violence reports in real time.
“We give you your victim’s rights. We talk about shelter. What are your immediate needs? What do you need right now? How do we get you away from the abuse?” Fernandez Rundle said.
One thing hasn’t changed, she said, and that is the reluctance of victims, especially if they are women, to come forward and pursue charges.
“We become mama bears and we want to protect the children, the dog, the house and the family,” Fernandez Rundle explained. “So they will sometimes choose that path and not the criminal justice path. Unfortunately, that anger tends to escalate.”
This episode of Anti-Social also delves into Fernandez Rundle’s view of condo corruption and John and Tony discuss Miami-Dade elections, the recent Republican debate in Miami and President Biden’s poll numbers.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, please call the State Attorney’s hotline phone number at 305-547-0140.