An Introduction to Process for Anyone Who’s Been Falsely Accused on a Restraining Order Petition and Doesn’t Know Anything about the Law

Posted on December 21, 2015


Representations of legal process on TV and in the movies are misleading. Judges are not sage, and they don’t care about you or your rights any more than they have to. People are falsely accused on restraining order petitions who may never have seen the inside of a courtroom before. They may enter with the expectations that they will be granted a judge’s compassionate and deliberate attention, and that if they tell the truth, they will be exonerated. These expectations are wrong.

  1. Law is about rules; it is not about truth, evidence, or morality.
  2. Judges don’t make the rules, but laws license judges to act independently as they “deem appropriate.”
  3. Judges can do whatever they want, which includes ignoring truth, evidence, and morality; ignoring truth, evidence, and morality isn’t against the rules.
  4. Judges aren’t accountable for anything they do unless it violates the law, which extends them broad discretionary powers (discretion is the right to freely choose, according to any standard or arbitrarily).
  5. Judges have been trained to be judges; they have not necessarily been trained to be lawyers (and neither lawmakers nor the court recognizes this to be a contradiction). The judge you appear before may not even have a college degree.
  6. Part of judges’ training is being told how to respond to certain allegations. In other words, bias is intrinsic to the process.
  7. Judges are guided in forming restraining order rulings by the principle of economy (i.e., efficiency), not by the principle of justice.
  8. Restraining order rulings are based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means judges favor the side whose presentation is more forceful, not more truthful. Restraining order rulings are not based on ascertainable proof, and the exposure of lies can count for nothing. (“Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a criminal standard and has nothing to do with restraining order judgments, which are based on claims, not facts.)
  9. In contrast to a lurid falsehood (e.g., “I’m afraid for my life!”), the truth is often weak, feeble, or ridiculous (i.e., less influential).
  10. The truth only has value if a judge finds it more compelling than a lie.
  11. Judges decide “the truth”; the truth doesn’t decide anything.
  12. Once judges bang their gavels, the truth is of no consequence and cannot be reasserted. (Its reintroduction in court is barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel.) Lies cannot be attacked in a collateral action (i.e., another legal proceeding, including an appeal). After a restraining order hearing is concluded, the allegations litigated in the case cannot be retried (except under extraordinary circumstances).
  13. Lies to the court are not recognized as libels or slanders, and the falsely accused cannot sue for criminal perjury.


The truth only counts if it works, and it can only work in a restraining order hearing, which may be afforded all of 10 minutes of the court’s time. The truth may be of value if it controverts or refutes false accusations (and the judge is paying attention or cares). Merely establishing that a false accuser is a liar, however, is no guarantee of a dismissal.

In preparing a defense, the accused should consider what will work, not what is true, decent, or honest.

Copyright © 2015

*If all of this sounds like a recommendation to get a lawyer, that’s because it is. One false accusation, successfully put over on the court, is a foot in the door that a false accuser may exploit indefinitely. The record is public and permanent…and may be only the first of many.