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Guest Column from State Representative Jim Hughes: Giving Victims of Violence Greater Justice

June 29, 2017
Republican Newsroom

More times than not, some of the best ideas for legislation come directly from you and other hardworking Ohioans—whether they come as a solution to a specific issue a family or community is having, or to close loopholes in the law that are discovered through unfortunate circumstances. I think most people in central Ohio are aware of a recent situation that became the inspiration for House Bill 63, also known as Judy’s Law.

Judy Malinowski, a resident of Gahanna, was doused with gasoline and set on fire by her former boyfriend on August 2, 2015. Nearly two years after the incident, after countless surgeries and confinement to a hospital bed, Judy has succumbed to her injuries and passed away. Before her passing, however, due to restrictions in Ohio law, her attacker had only been sentenced to 11 years in prison, charged with felonious assault and aggravated arson. Despite the severity of the attack and the life sentence he had given Judy, the court was only able to provide this sentencing, the maximum allowed.

Thus, her situation became the impetus behind House Bill 63, which I sponsored and which was named in her honor. The bill strengthens the penalties for offenders of felonious assault if an accelerant is used in the offense and the abuse resulted in permanent disability, allowing judges to add an additional prison term of 6 years in such cases. A former Miss New Albany and mother of two young girls, Judy fought bravely through her injuries and continued to be a voice for domestic violence, even recording testimony in support of this bill.

Although Judy lost her battle, her story will live on to help others in similar situations. This change in law will ensure that victims like Judy will receive the justice they deserve and empower our courts to give offenders of these horrendous acts a more adequate punishment. Because of the situation, Judy’s assailant will now be charged as responsible for her murder. It is my hope that her family and loved ones will get the closure they need after all they have been through, and that other victims will now have greater protections on her behalf.