Friday, April 08, 2005

Land of Disenchantment

While Massachusetts finally overturned its cohabitation crime statute, one of our newest states enacted its version in 1963. In New Mexico, not only did the state make it illegal for a couple to cohabitate, but anyone could file a complaint for prosecution.

"For $25, you can make someone's life a living hell," Charles E. Knoblauch, the lawyer for the accused woman said, referring to the filing fee. In Peralta, an apparently self-righteous and bitter ex-wife brought the charge against Richard Pitcher and Kimberly Henry. She had remarried but shared custody of their daughter on weekends. According to a New York Times article on the sordid affair, the ex claims that the immorality of that sinful couple, not her spite, led to the charges.

At the time, the local DA, Michael Runnels, said such filing were rare and that his office or the judge would probably dismiss the charge. He stated, "You can't have a 19th-century criminal code and have it survive into the 21st century and have it make any sense." According to the Times, Runnels could not say how many cohabitating couples were in his district, "but he predicted that 'the cohabitation vote' would outnumber those in favor of the law."

The case also attracted the Libertocracy Website's attention. It cites an email response from Pitcher for background.
I had to work late so I called my ex to see if Kimberly could pick up my daughter. I then received a criminal complaint for harassment for calling her at work. In court, she admitted that the call was in reference to this fact and the charges were dismissed by the judge. The judge told both of us to get along for the benefit of our daughter. According to court records, she and Roger (her current husband) filed the cohabitation charges 15 minutes later. There have been many incidents of harassment on their part, the latest was on Feb 15th when she had three police officers waiting for me at the scheduled exchange of my daughter. She told the officers that she had seen my vehicle at a bar, total fabrication. This was done with my daughter present so she could witness it. I did call to discuss this with Roger, then 2 weeks later, another criminal complaint of harassment. It seems this will never end.
In the end, things fared well and badly for the accused. The charges were tossed, but they ended up splitting. Pitcher has remarried and is apparently free from the threat of cohabitation charges for the time being.

Still to come...New Mexico's actions on the cohabitation law.

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