Abuse of the System
Our nation’s court system is free and available to everyone to access if they need the assistance of a judge to deal with a legal issue.
However, I often see it being abused and taken advantage of. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the area of Orders of Protection. Orders of Protection are available to people that are being physical abused by someone they know, or who have someone threatening them where there is a real risk of physical harm.
I have a client whose husband brutally beat her and their 3 year old with the buckle end of a belt. He also made a video of himself abusing and cutting a dog with a knife. This is a man with a real problem, who represents a serious threat to his wife, children and pets.
Taking Advantage of the Orders of Protection
On the day of my client’s court hearing, there were about 40 cases on the docket. As I listened to the other cases, I heard numerous stories that showed that many of those people should not have been there. Cases where a woman no longer wants her husband living in the house so she files an Order of Protection to get him kicked out; a jealous man accusing his former wife’s new boyfriend of abusing the children; a mom just trying to keep the child’s dad from being able to see the child; a man and woman that had not seen or spoken with each other in 3 years, but someone didn’t like the wording in an email. The docket was so crowded and busy that the court personnel that were there to try to resolve some of these couldn’t possibly get to everyone. The judge had to continue many of them until 2023 or we would have been there for days.
I have had numerous divorce clients ask me about filing an Order of Protection to get their spouse out of the house. I have always told them that unless there really was abuse or actual, credible threats of physical harm, I was not going to represent them on an Order of Protection, nor would I condone them doing it.
The Truth Comes Out
Judges are all pretty good at seeing through these things and the truth almost always comes out. Nothing upsets a judge more than to have their time wasted by liars and drama queens, and they will not hesitate to deliver a stern lecture (in open court) and embarrass someone that abuses the system just for their own benefit. They may even issue sanctions. And they will remember you and talk about you, to other judges and lawyers. In addition, the other lawyers and litigants will see who you are and will likely talk about you. They may see you in Target and point you out to their friends and family members.
The judge didn’t get to my client’s case that day, but there was a temporary order of protection in place, which was extended to keep the husband away from her and the kids. Some of the other people in the courtroom that day may not have been so fortunate. If someone could not wait through the entire (very long) docket call because they had to be at work, or had to pick up a child, their case was likely dismissed that day and they may have gone back to really being in danger.