by Todd Green
“Restraining orders give victims of domestic violence a tool to keep their abusers away or at least have them arrested if they come close. Anyone in a relationship with recent history of abuse can apply, and the order can be signed the same day.
“It gives victims the right to stay in the home and keep the kids. But the civil document relies on their abusers to respect the law.”
What’s inevitably lost in considerations like this is that for every person who’s attacked or killed in spite of a restraining order, thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people face grave indignities and privations consequent to orders’ being used exploitatively (including public revilement, chronic harassment, criminal profiling, social alienation, and loss of employment, health, and access to kids, home, and property). This is a fact it seems journalists would only be given cause to confront if more victims of procedural abuse killed themselves.
Preferable, certainly, would be if reporters could be depended on to sniff out and censure injustice without anyone’s having to die.
Toward this end, this post encourages reporters to recognize what the quoted paragraphs that introduce it actually say. This is revealed by removing the obfuscating rhetoric. Replace the phrase victims of domestic violence with accusers, and replace their abusers with the accused.
Now consider the implications of the same paragraphs, slightly revised:
“Restraining orders give accusers a tool to keep the accused away or at least have them arrested if they come close. Anyone in a relationship…can apply, and the order can be signed the same day.
“It gives accusers the right to stay in the home and keep the kids….”
The mere substitution of factually accurate, unbiased labels changes the meaning of these paragraphs significantly, and brings their implications to the fore.
Now dare to think the unthinkable (as every factual analyst should) and replace the word accusers with the word liars and the phrase the accused with the phrase those lied about, and pare away a few more words.
“Restraining orders give liars a tool to keep those lied about away or have them arrested. Anyone in a relationship can apply, and the order can be signed the same day.
“It gives liars the right to stay in the home and keep the kids.”
The same two paragraphs, reconceived, say that a restraining order can be got by lying to the court, can be used to have someone arrested without warrant based on the report of the liar, can be had in a single day (without the accused’s even being given prior notice of the proceedings), and can be used to gain immediate and sole entitlement to a place of residence and immediate and sole custody of children.
Appreciate that there are no (enforced) penalties for lying, and suddenly the motives and opportunity for fraud—particularly against a target of malice—become plain.
Appreciate further that allegations made by restraining order petitioners aren’t subject to the criminal standard (“proof beyond a reasonable doubt”). Restraining order trials are civil adjudications, not criminal ones. The “standard of proof” applied is “preponderance of the evidence,” which means no certain substantiation of allegations ranging from nuisance to sexual assault is required. Approval of a restraining order isn’t a (literal) finding of guilt, per se. No proof of anything must be established.
The truth of how conveniently and urgently restraining orders avail themselves as tools of abuse is right under the noses of everyone who writes about them. It just gets obscured by loaded words (victims and abusers, for example) and the images they excite. Blindness to these words’ unexamined assumptions is further reinforced by the hysteria aroused by a (single) sensational act of violence.
Principal among these unexamined assumptions is that everyone who claims to be a victim is a victim (according to which belief everyone who claims to be a victim is treated as a victim by the court—which every false claimant dependably anticipates).
Its funny, I was the one supposedly “playing” the victim; however, who was it that actually filed the protection orders? Wasn’t me, the one “playing the victim”. I have evidence that shows that the one filed is in no way the victim. This person that filed has a criminal history. I have no criminal history. I have held a health authority license for 10 years. I can’t afford to have a criminal history as it would ruin my career. So, since I was already guilty because the accuser had already filed and seen a judge. I had no choice but to hire a lawyer to defend me. Some states call this a restraining order but it is the same thing as a protection order.
The first thing reporters need to grasp about restraining orders is that they’re a kluge (a Frankenstein’s monster crudely stitched together from dubiously compatible parts). For plaintiffs (accusers), they merge the most favorable aspects of civil and criminal prosecutions; for defendants, the least favorable.
The scales of justice are tipped from the start.
Restraining orders allow a “private litigant [to] initiate judicial proceedings to seek redress against another private individual” just as civil lawsuits do (though restraining order applications by contrast are typically processed free of charge). They’re also adjudicated according to the lowest civil standard of proof (“preponderance of the evidence”). State standards vary rhetorically, but the criterion for rulings is basically the same: whatever judges fancy is just (and there are only two choices—thumbs up or thumbs down).
On this basis, citizens can be rousted from their homes and kicked to the curb (and some are left destitute). On this basis, also, they may be entered into domestic violence registries (indefinitely), besides state and federal law enforcement databases (indefinitely), and denied security clearances, loans, leases, and even employment in certain fields (like convicted felons).
Notwithstanding that restraining order allegations are introduced in civil court and aren’t subject to the criminal standard of evidence (“proof beyond a reasonable doubt”), “criminal penalties, such as fines and incarceration, will attach if a protection order is violated”—or is simply alleged to have been violated: arresting officers need only have a reasonable suspicion that a violation occurred, which they need not have witnessed.
He or she should appreciate further that restraining orders are most commonly issued ex parte, which means accusers simply fill out a form and very briefly interview with a judge without defendants’ being present to contest the allegations and without their even being aware that they’ve been made. (Some courts even explicitly advise plaintiffs to rehearse their allegations so they can recite them as quickly as they would an order at a drive-thru.) Although most states mandate that a follow-up hearing be slated to give the accused an opportunity to controvert the allegations against them and receive an “unbiased” second opinion, follow-up hearings are held in the same court that prejudicially ruled against them in the first place: “We found you guilty. Go ahead and tell us why we screwed up. You have 15 minutes.” Because restraining order trials are civil proceedings, defendants aren’t provided free counsel. They’re nevertheless afforded only a few days (or a couple of weeks at the outside) to prepare a defense.
The legislative insensitivity to constitutional principles and protections as well as the lack of judicial housekeeping in this area of law are beneath the perceptual threshold of the public. To the uninitiated, the absence of controversy originating from “legitimate” sectors suggests that everything’s working as it should: restraining orders are issued to dangerous people who need to be tethered.
Restraining order abuse is the act of requesting an unmerited restraining order against an individual, and/or the misuse of that order for any sort harassment, malicious mischief against the subject, or personal gain for the holder, rather than its intended purpose of protection. For a more complete description and discussion on the topic of restraining orders, check out TALKING BACK To Restraining Orders
Using a protection order in this case should be illegal. The person doing this has perjured themselves and gets away with it. When a false restraining order is filed it goes against the ones that actually need it and makes way to easy for the abuser to file against the abused. Causing more fear and undue stress, Something needs to be done about it. This is what was said by a lawyer in an email “Abusers will frequently file an order against their victim.” If a lawyer says this and it is this obvious, then something should be done.
Hopefully you learned something by reading this.