Emotions run high in family cases, experts say

Posted on: June 16, 2005


A triple shooting sparked by a divorce case left few in the legal community surprised Wednesday – as many said family court is vastly more contentious and emotional than most criminal cases.

Retired state trooper Michael Bochicchio Jr. fatally shot his estranged wife, Donna, serious wounded her Waterbury-based attorney, Julie Prozio, then shot himself outside a Middletown courthouse.

The couples' divorce action, filed by Michael Bochicchio in 2003, had been a battleground over issues of child custody, alimony, and protective orders, court records show.

Those in the legal community had few ideas for what could be done to prevent similar tragedies.

Attorney Terry Donovan of Old Saybrook, who practices family law extensively, said family court is extremely volatile, with good people at their worst

"I'm not surprised to see this happen, and you hear of it around the country," Donovan said Wednesday. "I don't have a solution other than outlawing guns, which I doubt will happen."

No attorney is listed on the Judicial Branch website as representing Michael Bochicchio.

According to Donovan, representing yourself in a contentious family or divorce case can make matters worse, the pressure higher

"They can get over their heads trying to represent themselves," Donovan said.

Attorney Tara Knight, whose office is in New Haven, said she believes Wednesday's tragedy is an isolated incident, but she has experienced the high emotions of family court.

While Knight handled family cases years ago, she decided to go with criminal defense instead.

"I feel more safe in the criminal arena rather than family court," said Knight. "The emotions in family court can be overwhelming. Family court is more dangerous in general, because people are dealing with custody, visitation rights and betrayals. Sometimes those factors add up to explosions."