FABRY v. POWERS: An Injunction against a Woman That Underscores the Wastefulness and Absurdity of the Restraining Order Process, and Its Licensing of Civil Rights Violations by the Courts

Posted on May 12, 2016


Contents of this post were independently investigated by the writer. He alone is responsible for the post’s authorship.

Tennessee ball player Jacob Benjamin Fabry petitioned an “order of protection” against a Colorado woman 20 years his senior in September. He told the court he feared “harm” from the woman, Sheila Powers, who is 65 lbs. lighter than he is, stands 7″ shorter, and has never been within the borders of the state in which Fabry lives.

Here is a chart prepared by the “state administrative offices of the courts” in 2010 that puts the number of “general” and “limited” jurisdiction state courts in our country at about 30,000.

Here is a single judge’s docket for this week. It has about 30 cases on it, eight of which (about a fourth) are protection order cases.

That’s one judge, one week, eight restraining order cases. While it’s unlikely this means there are 240,000 restraining orders issued each week in the United States, it does suggest that there are a whole lot. (A cost estimate, also from 2010, projects the national expenditure to be at least $4,000,000,000 per annum.)

The particular judge whose docket is cited is L. Marie Williams, who issued a restraining order in Tennessee last year petitioned by Jacob Fabry against Coloradan Sheila Powers. The judge’s order requires that Ms. Powers, who lives three states distant from Mr. Fabry, “stay away” from him and his children, and it mandated that she turn over any firearms in her possession within 48 hours.

Mr. Fabry’s affidavit to the court claims “threats of harm,” besides “harassment and stalking,” as the motives for his application for an injunction. Ms. Powers says she has never been to Tennessee, including to contest Mr. Fabry’s “order of protection.” The order was finalized by default: “The Tennessee judge…refused to let me appear by phone and then threw my notarized affidavit out, [rejecting] it as hearsay.”

Mr. Fabry, the plaintiff, is a competitive baseball player who stands 6′ 1″ and weighs 195 lbs.; Ms. Powers is 5′ 6″, weighs 130, and lives in a different time zone. She’s also 20 years older than Mr. Fabry.

Jacob Fabry

Judge Williams ruled:

Respondent shall refrain from contacting Petitioner, his family, his girlfriend or his employer, directly or indirectly, from stalking, harassing, threatening, texting, emailing, posting on the Internet or any social media platform anything about, referring to in any way referencing the Petitioner, his family, his girlfriend or his employer.

The judge’s ruling exemplifies how an already extravagantly expensive, easily exploited, and dubiously necessary process opens the door to gross violations of citizens’ civil rights. In wanton excess of her jurisdiction, the judge prohibited Ms. Powers from exercising her right to freedom of speech.

This order, besides highlighting palpable absurdities endemic to the restraining order process, is transparently unlawful (i.e., unconstitutional) and therefore void (which does not mean it can be safely disobeyed).

Copyright © 2016 RestrainingOrderAbuse.com

*The order concludes: “Neither you nor the Petitioner can agree to change this Order. Even if the Petitioner attempts to contact you or agrees to have contact with you, you must obey this Order. If you do not, you can be jailed for up to 11 months and 29 days and fined up to $2,500.” (Emphases added.)

Jacob Fabry