Annie Allison is “the other victim” in the family-law tragedy that befell Reno on June 12. As most attention has naturally been focused on murder victim Charla Mack and Judge Charles Weller, Weller’s aide Allison has been the subject of less attention but much confusion. She was standing near Weller when he was shot through a courthouse window. “Believed to be Weller’s secretary” is one phrase that appeared in stories from coast to coast (Allison is Weller’s administrative assistant). And this week, Allison cleared up one question that had been the subject of much speculation: She said the shrapnel wounds she suffered in the arm and hip were the result of bullet fragments, not of glass shards.
How did your family react?
Oh, my mom is just now starting to come out of her strength and defensive mode and start to get a little teary, I think. My husband was incredibly strong through all of this. And my family and my friends have been so wonderful. I think the community’s been so wonderful. You know, I grew up in Reno. And it is still very much a small town. I know it’s grown by leaps and bounds, but it’s still very much a small town, and I’m comforted by that. I’m comforted that I can walk through the grocery store and have somebody put their arm around me and say, “Hope you’re doing OK.” It gets a little overwhelming at times, but I’m glad it’s happened here and not somewhere else where I didn’t have that support.
You’ve known from your work that there is a sort of level of violence around family court. Were you surprised when this happened?
I was surprised. I was surprised. You know, going back to my [earlier] statement about this being a small town—I was surprised at that type of a reaction. I love watching Law & Order, and I love seeing it on TV. I did not love going through it. But yes, it was a shock.
If you were talking to a friend who was going into family court, what would you tell him or her about expectations, how to handle it?
First and foremost, knowing all of the judges and seeing them work behind the scenes, I would tell them to have an expectation of fairness and an expectation of justice—and also not to expect everything to go their way. I know there is always a perception of, “That was not fair, that’s not how I wanted it to go!” And unfortunately, it is not a place that everybody wants to be. Family court is not a place where you go to celebrate, typically, unless it’s an adoption. So I tell them to expect fairness and expect justice but not to expect to get everything they want or to have everything go their way because that’s not how it works. It has to be evenhanded—not one end of the teeter-totter up and the other down.
What’s your condition now?
Physically, fine. Emotionally, a little—still shaky, but working through it.