New Calendar Aims to Streamline R.I.’s Domestic Violence Cases

PROVIDENCE — It’s week two of the unrolling of rhode island’s first dedicated domestic-violence court calendar and, already, Superior Court Judge Susan E. McGuirl is seeing assaults, stalkings, vandalism and murder.

In all, more than 300 criminal cases are expected to be placed on McGuirl’s calendar in the state criminal justice system’s latest strategy to combat the persistent problem of domestic violence. They involve lovers, brothers and sisters, married couples, grandparents.

The idea is to have a single judge preside over felony domestic-violence cases from post-arraignment through sentencing. Supervision by a lone judge, as opposed to an array of judges or magistrates, aims to increase the safety for the accusers and hold defendants accountable by having the case proceed in more expeditious fashion. The thinking is that the judge will develop familiarity with the defendant, as well as the complainant, and their history.

The effort comes at an opportune time. Though statistics show the number of domestic-violence cases dropped in rhode island over the past decade, 2010 saw the highest number of murders linked to domestic violence since the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence began keeping records more than two decades ago.

McGuirl recently added one of those murder cases to her list: Constantino Nardolillo. Authorities say Nardolillo beat his wife, Annmarie, to death in January 2010 in Providence’s first homicide of the year.

Barry Oliver is one of the first defendants to appear before McGuirl under the new system.

He slapped his ex-girlfriend across the face, grabbed her by the throat and snatched the telephone away from her when she tried to call the police, according to a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. In April, a jury returned a guilty verdict against Oliver, who has been held without bail since July 1.

Oliver’s criminal history includes two previous convictions for simple domestic assault as well as convictions for twice violating no-contact orders.

McGuirl is scheduled to sentence him in the latest case on Sept. 30.

Domestic-violence cases are like no others.”

Read the entire article, by Katie Mulvaney, in the Providence Journal Online.

Criminal defense attorneys in Rhode Island are optimistic about this programs success, as it will ideally minimize the chance of a case getting lost or overlooked.

However, despite this change in the court calendar system, the seriousness of a domestic violence charge will not change.  If you have been arrested and charged with a domestic violence crime, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney like John R. Grasso, who has experience and a record of success defending domestic violence charges.