Warrenton, Virginia Vice Mayor Sunny Reynolds Explains What Legitimates the Protective Order Process

Posted on March 15, 2018


“[Warrenton, Virginia Vice Mayor Sunny] Reynolds called the protective order process ‘very difficult, both timewise and emotionally’ and said she ‘could not imagine someone [enduring it] if they didn’t have a legitimate complaint.’”

—Jill Palermo, Fauquier Times

The previous post examined Virginia politician Sunny Reynolds’ “legitimate complaint” to a court, indulged at a cost to the taxpayer possibly as high as $1,000 or more. A detective was assigned to the case. A statement was taken. Paperwork had to be filed at the court, data entered, and police notified of the court’s preliminary ruling. The respondent had to be physically served with her restraining order by a constable or law enforcement official. A judge had to hear her complaint, and another judge had to rehear it. Then more paperwork had to be processed, data entered, and police notified a second time (and more paperwork processed and data entered).

Ms. Reynolds alleged she was angrily addressed, had a finger pointed at her, and felt crowded during an exchange in a restaurant with a local real estate investor, Keith MacDonald, who was addressing a grievance to an elected official (albeit in an unofficial venue).

Ms. Reynolds’ complaint, in essence, was that Mr. MacDonald intruded on her meal, which somewhat contrasts with how advocates for the restraining order process tend to justify it:

Law, like language, follows usage. Certainly in the sense that a judge is licensed to entertain any petty gripe, Ms. Reynolds’ complaint was “legitimate.” By this standard, though, what occasion for hurt feelings or indignation wouldn’t legitimate a complaint to the court that incriminates its target?

A question arises: Is this the first time Ms. Reynolds has sought a restraining order? The statement of hers quoted in the epigraph would suggest the answer is yes. If a public exchange in a roomful of people is the most fear-inspiring interpersonal experience Ms. Reynolds has ever had, she has led a charmed life indeed. If it isn’t, then what were her motives really? It’s one thing to seek protection after an act of violence has been committed (or at least threatened); it’s another thing to punish someone for an act that only exists in the complainant’s imagination.

In a more detailed account of the incident than that reported by the Fauquier Times, one published on the website FauqueirNow.com, Ms. Reynolds is quoted as testifying: (1) “He just got more and more aggressive. I was afraid he might hit me.” That’s during a dialogue that her witness testified lasted “three or four minutes” with a gap in between. Then Ms. Reynolds is quoted as remarking: “He said, ‘I’m gonna get you. I’m gonna fix you. All it takes is 125 signatures’”—to get on the town council ballot, something Fauquier Now reports Mr. Macdonald has done. If the stated threat was political opposition, why was a physical blow “feared”? The alleged threat by Mr. MacDonald, which was probably emphasized in typical tattletale fashion because it contained the phrase, “I’m gonna get you,” actually exculpates him. It makes his intention clear: to unseat Ms. Reynolds in the May election (an intention that’s conveniently hamstrung by the protective order Ms. Reynolds petitioned).

In her Fauqueir Times interview, Ms. Reynolds described her filing for a restraining order as “very difficult…emotionally.” For her, being challenged, then (and offered a brochure), was very stressful and so was “having to” complain about it.

It’s a telling commentary on the system that it’s there to provide emotional succor to fragile politicians.

Ms. Reynolds also told reporters that she felt singled out because she’s a girl, and maybe she’s right. So?

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