Connecticut Lawmakers Conclude Getting a Restraining Order Isn’t Easy Enough Already

Posted on August 25, 2014


Those victimized by liars who abuse restraining order and domestic violence laws often blame their judges. It’s natural. They’re the ones who deprive the wrongly accused of dignity, liberty, property, and family—and theirs are the words that echo in the memory and grate on the nerves during the empty hours.

Lawmakers it must be remembered, though, are the enablers.

Judges may be careless. They may even be cruel. But legislators are clueless.

To give an example, consider this story reported today in Hartford, Connecticut’s The Courant (August 25, 2014):

Domestic violence victims need to have a simpler process of applying for restraining orders and better communication with the agencies that handle them, a legislative subcommittee said Monday.

To that end, the subcommittee of the task force on restraining orders agreed to recommend a streamlined version of restraining order applications and an accompanying checklist to pave the way for better communication among victims, marshals and courts.

The Connecticut legislature purposes to make simpler yet a process that’s already so “streamlined” that accusers don’t have to prove anything.

CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-15(b): “The court, in its discretion, may make such orders as it deems appropriate for the protection of the applicant and such dependent children or other persons as the court sees fit.… If an applicant alleges an immediate and present physical danger to the applicant, the court may issue an ex parte order granting such relief as it deems appropriate.”

This literally means that if a domestic partner merely alleges s/he feels in danger, which only takes a few seconds to do, the court is authorized to order the accused to be forcibly ejected from his or her home by armed agents of the state—even if the accused owns that home and has lived in it all of his or her life. In other words (again, for example), it’s entirely possibly for someone who has no home to move in with someone else, falsely accuse him or her of abuse, and for all intents and purposes seize possession of his or her home. Other obvious motives for lying are malice or gaining custody of kids.

No evidence of anything is required by the law, which is a blank check that authorizes accusers to say whatever they feel like and judges to do whatever they feel like.

Members of the legislative subcommittee referenced in The Courant article reportedly expect to improve their understanding of the flaws inherent in the restraining order process by taking a field trip. They plan “a ‘ride along’ with the representative of the state marshals on the panel…to learn more about how restraining orders are served.”

The urgent problem with restraining orders as they see it is ensuring that more of them are successfully delivered.

The article cites concerns expressed by the executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence “about the complicated process domestic violence victims face when they apply for restraining orders.”

The “complicated process” to have someone evicted shoeless from his or her home in the Connecticut winter and prohibited access to his or kids based on an allegation is filling out a form.

The Connecticut legislators “decided to remove the instructions in small print at the top of the form, which start with the outdated suggestion that the applicant ‘use a typewriter.’ Applicants will have access to a separate sheet of paper that has step-by-step instructions.”

Authorizing the court “in its discretion” to fill out orders “as it deems appropriate” would seem more expeditious and economical to this writer.

Copyright © 2014