hidden half of domestic violence
to have eternal life
The estimate given below by Judge Jones that one-third of restraining
orders in Massachusetts are an abuse of process agrees very closely with the
30% estimate I've arrived at based on demographic data in Colorado http://www.dvmen.org/dv-12.htm
I regard these as minimum estimates and expect the actual abuse of process is
closer to 50%, as Cathy Young has estimated http://www.vix.com/menmag/cyoungdv.htm
I base the higher value on the fact that many restraining orders are sought by
women who are not married to the man they seek vengeance against.
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.
455 Bear Creek Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80906-5820
Home page: http://boulder.earthnet.net/~ccorry
Domestic Violence Against
Retiring Judge Reveals
that Restraining Orders Are Huge Problem
April 2, 2001
© 2001 The Massachusetts News
One-third of all
restraining orders are used merely for leverage in divorce cases, a retiring
judge in Bristol County [Massachusetts] Probate Court, Malcolm Jones, revealed
There's a real need for a law against this misuse of the court system, Judge
Jones told the New Bedford Standard Times.
The newspaper wrote, "If there is one area of the entire process he
openly questions, it is the matter of 209As - restraining orders." It
quoted him as saying, "It's a necessary law, but it's an abused one. I've
seen it used too many times as leverage in divorce cases, not for women in
imminent fear of physical danger. One third of them are not legitimate, merely
used as an 'I'll fix you.' Don't forget, once a 209A order is in place, if a
defendant violates it, he's now got a criminal case he's looking at."
Judges Are Afraid to
The judges of Massachusetts are afraid to release a man if he has been charged
with domestic violence. They know that the Boston Globe will excoriate any
judge if a woman is later injured or murdered.
One judge, Bonnie H. MacLeod, says she heard a judge say at a conference,
"When in doubt, throw him out."
She told Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in 1997 that while not all judges adhere
to the same line of thinking, some trial court judges do feel that if they are
going to make an error, it is better to err on the side of issuing the order.
Walpole family lawyer Marilynne R. Bryant told the paper that restraining
orders are "issued liberally and are easy to get."
Attorney Paul W. Patten of Fall River said they are "issued like
candy." He continued:
"It's a rare case that they won't be issued as long as somebody says the
magic word, 'I've been hit' or 'I've been threatened.' Unless that person has
three heads or something really incredible like that, a District Court judge
is going to issue them."
Supreme Judicial Court
Gave A Glimmer of Hope
The Lawyers Weekly story
was written because of two new cases where the [Massachusetts] Supreme
Judicial Court had reversed the lower courts. The paper said: "District
Court and Probate Court judges have long been accused of 'rubberstamping' 209A
requests, which, once issued, are entered into a registry at the Department of
Probation and are very difficult to have expunged."
But the paper said that while the SJC opinion was "encouraging" to
defense attorneys, they believed it would "not necessarily result in
trial judges being more reluctant" to issue restraining orders.
Taunton attorney James H.
Fagan, who is also a state Representative, said: "While it's a
positive sign that the court has acknowledged a problem, to suggest that these
two cases would [cause] the pendulum to swing back to a fairer or more neutral
position would be overly optimistic. Š I had a judge once say, 'Who cares if
she lied on the affidavit? If she comes in and says she's frightened today,
that's all I have to hear."
Fagan added that even though the [Massachusetts] Supreme Judicial Court
opinion was welcome, the average person would not be able to afford to appeal
a decision. In addition to that, it would probably be over a year before an
appeal would be heard.
He also put some reality into the discussion by noting that the courts are
"All too often, given the busy and crowded docket the District
Court judges face, a 209A request is a collateral emergency shoved on them in
an already very busy, full day. As judges watch someone like me representing
someone with four witnesses to controvert what was said in an affidavit, the
judge looks at that and cannot help but think how much time this will take
when he has a courtroom of people with criminal problems already scheduled for
But the Newell case http://www.massnews.com/501dad~1.htm did not
represent a busy judge in a hurry. It represented a conscious decision after
many days of testimony. It also took the judge over six weeks to make his
decision and to complete a few blanks on a court form.
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is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month