Monday, July 14, 2008

All My Love And You Showed No Mercy

Oh fuck this shit sideways:
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Women's rights groups and the state Attorney General's Office are preparing to challenge a judge's ruling that determined it's too easy to get a restraining order in New Jersey.

It's on my To-Do list: get a manicure, have the dog waxed, file for a restraining order. You want to do lunch? I could rearrange a few things.
Although the numbers have declined over the past five years, about 40,000 domestic violence complaints are filed annually in New Jersey. From those, roughly 30,000 temporary restraining orders are issued, with most of the rest withdrawn by the accuser. Nearly 80 percent of the complaints are filed by women.

The recent ruling by a Hudson County judge, however, threatens to make it more difficult for victims to prove they have been beaten or threatened and could scuttle the state's Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.

State Superior Court Judge Francis B. Schultz found that some elements of the 17-year-old law are unconstitutional. Among them: a low threshold of evidence _ just a "preponderance" _ to get a restraining order violates due process protections. Instead, judges need "clear and convincing" evidence to issue a restraining order, Schultz said.

[Sic] and very sick. In fact, with all that spinning, vertigo is almost inevitable.
In New Jersey, about 9,000 people bring criminal charges each year that a restraining order has been violated, sometimes with tragic results.

For example, prosecutors in Essex County have charged Kenneth Duckett with murdering his estranged wife, Monica Paul, by shooting her to death in front of one of their children at the Montclair YMCA on June 26. The couple had separated in August, and Paul obtained a temporary restraining order in October. It was made final later that month, according to prosecutors.

Bruce Eden, civil rights director for the state chapter of Dads Against Discrimination, contended that such cases are rare, and that a majority of domestic violence complaints involve no physical contact. Complaints can be filed for making threats.

He applauded Schultz' decision. "This will make it more difficult for false allegations," Eden said.

I wonder if I could projectile-vomit all the way to Bruce Eden's house. It would have to be a record of some kind. Who's with me? Eat something chunky!
Michael Argen, president of the New Jersey Council for Children's Rights, said that a parent will not get custody of children once a restraining order is issued.

"If this ruling continues, it would help truly battered people more, because it would limit the resources that are being used on truly frivolous cases," Argen said.

I'm thinking gravity's a little weak at Argen's house. Either that or he's confused by pesky words like homicide and manslaughter when they apply to women.
Schultz also found the law violated the New Jersey Constitution's separation of powers mandate because the Legislature usurped the state Supreme Court's role by dictating court procedures, including what to consider in setting bail.

"If it's allowed to stand, it certainly would be a significant problem for victims of domestic violence," said Sandy Clark, associate director of the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women.

"They are typically the only witnesses to the abuse. So to have to show by clear and convincing standard would certainly be challenging," Clark said.

She considers New Jersey's law among the best in the country, since it provides restraining orders of indefinite length, along with mandatory training for police and judges. Other states have tougher standards to obtain restraining orders, she said.

Prosecutors are also alarmed at what would happen if the ruling stands.

"You're going to have a chilling effect. That's the bottom line," said Deputy Chief Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Debra Cannella, who led the office's domestic violence unit for 11 years.

"We're very concerned about this because elevating the standard of proof will make it more difficult for victims of domestic violence who desperately need relief," Cannella said. "The next time that victim is assaulted, they may not come back to court because there were rebuffed."

The victim might not come back to court next time because she's inconveniently dead, but that's less important than a legislative pissing match.

Hey, girl: once again, your rights take a beating. Do us all a favor and take it like a man.



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