Adrian Peterson Redux: Calif. Attorney General Pronounced that "Spanking Children With An Object Other Than The Hand is Not Unlawful"
By Martin Hill
LibertyFight.com
September 14, 2014


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Minnesota Vikings running-back Adrian Peterson turned himself in to police in Montgomery County, Texas, on Saturday and was released on a measley $15,000 bond. Peterson reportedly beat his 4-year-old son with a tree branch after the child misbehaved. When questioned by police after the boy went back home to his mother in Minnesota, Peterson admitted he gave his son a "whooping" with a "switch." CBS reported "The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child's back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child's hands."

After the initial incident, Peterson had texted his son's mother, noting "I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch," that he "felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh," and that he "Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I'm all tearing that butt up when needed!"

The Peterson case, one of top trending stories on google with over one million queries on Friday, has caught the nation's attention. The topic of corporal punishment has been revisited as a result. In Peterson's case, the Texas prosecutor had to present the case to a grand jury twice before getting an indictment against Peterson for "negligent injury to a child."

Peterson's lawyer stated, in part, "Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened. He has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours. Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning. It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury."

ESPN reported that Peterson's 2-year-old son was killed last October in South Dakota by a man dating the boy's mother. Court documents in that case reveal that on October 9, 2013, 27-year-old Joseph Robert Patterson committed aggrivated battery of an infant-domestic and aggrivated assault noting that "he did intentionally or recklessly cause serious bodily injury to a infant, less than three years old, by causing any intracranial or introcular bleeding, or swelling of or damage to the brain, caused by blows, shaking, or causing the infant's head to impact with an object or surface." Patterson's family paid the $750,000 bond in cash to get him out of jail. The mother of the slain infant, 2-year old Tyrese Robert Ruffin, was a white woman named Ann "Ashley" Doohen, pictured here. Patterson was later indicted on second degree murder charges and his bail was revoked when he was arrested in June of this year for allegedly kidnapping and attacking the slain baby's mother.


In the case of 29-year-old football star Adrian Peterson beating his 4-year old son with a tree branch, common opinion would likely maintain that it's illegal to spank a child with an object. However, that is not always the case.

In 1997, California State Senator Ray Haynes filed an official query with the California Attorney General, asking "Is it unlawful for a parent to spank a child for disciplinary purposes with an object other than the hand?"

The official response, filed July 21, 1997 by Attorney General Dan Lungren, stated, in part, "It is not unlawful for a parent to spank a child for disciplinary purposes with an object other than the hand; however, the punishment must be necessary and not excessive in relation to the individual circumstances...
...The question presented for resolution concerns corporal punishment administered by a parent. Specifically, may a parent spank a child for disciplinary purposes with an object other than the open hand? We conclude that the punishment may be so administered as long as it is necessary and not excessive in relation to the individual circumstances... As among objects themselves, spanking with a studded belt or the plug-end of an electrical cord cannot be equated with spanking with a lightweight paddle or a bedroom slipper. Finally, we note that a child may be made a dependent of the juvenile court if he or she is subject to serious physical harm by a parent."

The 4-page opinion went on to explain:


"Thus as these cases make clear, whether the corporal punishment falls within the parameters of a parent's right to discipline involves consideration of not only the necessity for the punishment but also whether the amount of punishment was reasonable or excessive. Reasonableness and necessity therefore are not two separate defenses but rather two aspects of the single issue of parental right to discipline by physical punishment. . . ."

For purposes of this subdivision, `serious physical harm' does not include reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of serious physical injury."

"It is the intent of the Legislature that nothing in this section disrupt the family unnecessarily or intrude inappropriately into family life, prohibit the use of reasonable methods of parental discipline, or prescribe a particular method of parenting. . . ." We conclude that it is not unlawful for a parent to spank a child for disciplinary purposes with an object other than the hand; however, the punishment must be necessary and not excessive in relation to the individual circumstances.

Footnote No. 1 To "spank" normally means to slap on the buttocks with the palm of the hand, but it may also mean to use some other object. (Webster's New Internat. Dict. (3rd ed. 1971) p. 2182.) We are not here concerned with spankings administered by a teacher or school official (see Ingraham v. Wright (1976) 430 U.S. 651) or with corporal punishment administered by other authorities in settings outside of the home (see 78 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 197 (1995)

Penal Code section 273d, subdivision (a) Footnote No. 2 provides: "Any person who willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine."


The focus of section 273d, in regards to parents physically disciplining their child, is on the resulting condition of the child, not on the object used to administer the corporal punishment. For a violation of section 273d to occur, the spanking must result in a "traumatic condition," which for purposes of the statute has been defined as "a wound or other abnormal bodily condition resulting from application of some external force." (People v. Stewart (1961) 188 Cal.App.2d 88, 91, citing People v. Burns (1948) 88 Cal.App.2d 867, 873-874.) Where a spanking with an object other than the open hand produces a traumatic condition,
Section 273a provides in part:
"(a) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison for two, four, or six years.
"(b) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions other than those likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered is guilty of a misdemeanor."

Here again, criminal liability is not contingent upon the type of object used. Rather, the issue is whether the parent has inflicted "unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering" when considering objectively the individual circumstances. "Section 273a holds every person to an objective standard of reasonableness regarding the causing of physical pain, mental suffering or injury to a child or the endangering of a child's person or health." (People v. Deskin (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1397, 1403.)

...In People v. Whitehurst (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 1045, 1050, the court recently explained: "A parent has a right to reasonably discipline by punishing a child and may administer reasonable punishment without being liable for a battery. (Emery v. Emery (1955) 45 Cal.2d 421, 429; People v. Stewart (1961) 188 Cal.App.2d 88, 91 [§ 273d.] This includes the right to inflict reasonable corporal punishment. (People v. Curtiss (1931) 116 Cal.App.Supp. 771, 775 [§273a].)

"However, a parent who willfully inflicts unjustifiable punishment is not immune from either civil liability or criminal prosecution. (People v. Stewart, supra, 188 Cal.App.2d 88, 91; People v. Curtiss, supra, 116 Cal.App.Supp. 771, 777.) As explained in Curtiss, corporal punishment is unjustifiable when it is not warranted by the circumstances i e not necessary or punishment is unjustifiable when it is not warranted by the circumstances, i.e., not necessary, or when such punishment, although warranted, was excessive. (116 Cal.App. at p. Supp. 780.) "[B]oth the reasonableness of, and the necessity for, the punishment is to be determined by a jury, under the circumstances of each case." (Id., at p. Supp. 777.)


You can read the entire 4-page opinion on the CA Attorney General website here:

http://oag.ca.gov/system/files/opinions/pdfs/97-416.pdf
[OPINION No. 97-416]
TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

State of California
DANIEL E. LUNGREN
Attorney General

Haynes, who served in the CA legislature as both senator and assemblyman from 1993-2007, most recently ran unsuccessfuly for U.S. Congress in District 36, located in Riverside County. Haynes lost to his challenger in the Republican Party primary.


Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened.com, Infowars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, Economic Policy Journal, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association, AmericanFreePress.net, RomanCatholicReport.com, WorldNetDaily, OverdriveOnline.com, Educate-Yourself.org, TexeMarrs.com, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show, Strike-The-Root.com, Pasadena Weekly, ActivistPost.com, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640, IamtheWitness.com, Redlands Daily Facts, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense.com, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, CopBlock.org, DavidIcke.com, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer, Antiwar.com, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com and DontWakeMeUp.Org.

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