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Using Electronic Monitoring to Protect Against Domestic Violence

By: Isabel Noto, ELAP Intern

A recent legal ruling in Washington has highlighted the significance of electronic monitoring as a crucial safety measure in cases of domestic violence. The case involved Lauren Davis, a member of the Washington State Legislature, and her ex-boyfriend, Cody Arledge, who worked as a lobbyist.

In 2019, Arledge and Davis began dating after meeting through work. Throughout their relationship, Arledge showed a “pattern of control and manipulation” towards Davis. On one occasion, after Davis had attempted to break up with him, Arledge physically blocked her from leaving the room and made threatening remarks. Concerned for her safety, Davis cut off all communication with Arledge and had to flee her own home for extended periods of time.

Even after the breakup, Arledge continued to stalk and harass Davis. Arledge repeatedly tried to contact her and even sent threatening emails to her government work email, where he accussed her of trying to harm his career because of their breakup.

In 2021, Davis asked for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) with GPS electronic monitoring to ensure her safety. This monitoring would alert law enforcement if Arledge got too close to Davis’s place of work or residence, providing an extra layer of protection for Davis.

After receiving the DVPO, Arledge disagreed with the decision and argued that constant electronic monitoring violated his constitutional rights. He also claimed his actions were not domestic violence because his email that was sent to Davis’ government work email was a form of political speech that should be protected by the First Amendment.

The case went to the Washington Court of Appeals to decide the constitutionality of electronic monitoring in domestic violence cases.

The Court of Appeals supported the use of electronic monitoring to protect domestic violence survivors. They found that it was crucial for the safety of the survivor and did not violate constitutional rights. The court also emphasized that because the monitoring was for a limited time with specific conditions, it was a reasonable tool to keep survivors safe. Additionally, the court disagreed with Arledge’s argument about his email being protected political speech because his overall behavior showed that he was harassing the survivor in various other ways.

The Washington Court of Appeals confirming the use of electronic monitoring in the DVPO for Lauren Davis sends a strong message about making survivor safety a top priority. This decision highlights how technology can help protect people from domestic violence. By saying that electronic tracking is constitutional, the court is paving the way for more progress in fighting domestic violence and giving power to survivors. It’s an important step towards making sure people affected by intimate partner violence have a safer future.

ELAP thanks and extends its gratitude to the partner organizations that signed and assisted with the amicus brief in this case to support the DVPO, including:

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