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Judge seeks input on whether woman should be forced to testify against partner

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky judge is seeking input from the state attorney general’s office before deciding whether a law exempting spouses from testifying against each other applies to two women in a civil union from Vermont.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Susan Schultz Gibson says the attorney general’s office should be given a chance to respond.

Bobbie Joe Clary (left) and Geneva Case

“You are asking me to make this decision on a constitutional amendment,” Gibson said. “I don’t think there is anybody that would argue this isn’t an extremely important issue.”

The Courier-Journal reports the case has become the first legal test in the state over forcing same-sex partners to testify against each other.

Prosecutors say Geneva Case heard her spouse, Bobbie Joe Clary, admit to killing a man two years ago and saw her clean blood out of the man’s van and abandon it in Southern Indiana. Case has told the prosecution she will not testify, invoking the “Husband-Wife” privilege under state law, according to court records.

Prosecutors argue that Case must testify because Kentucky doesn’t recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages.

“It is not our right or duty to change the law,” prosecutor Stacy Grieve said. “The court also can not change the law in Kentucky.”

Attorneys for Clary and Case argued that it would be a violation of the Constitution to deny them the same marital rights as others.

Angela Elleman, an attorney for Clary, said Kentucky’s amendment conflicts with the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“We can not follow both,” she said. “They are contradictory.”

Clary is charged with murder and robbery in the death last year of George Murphy. She has claimed self-defense in the killing, saying that she hit Murphy in the head with a hammer while he was raping her.

Grieve said the attorney general’s office didn’t have enough notice to attend Tuesday’s hearing but planned to be present at the next one on Aug. 16.

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