At the ACLU web site, we encounter an article entitled "Ending Domestic Violence Requires Holding Police Accountable." I don't disagree with the assertion that Police, and Court officials, must be held accountable... Here in Utah, the State Constitution, Article IV, Section 10, mandates an oath of service which states that:
All officers made elective or appointive by this Constitution or by the laws made in pursuance thereof, before entering upon the duties of their respective offices, shall take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity."They are not in this boat alone. After all, we are all expected to be accountable for our own acts and omissions. Clearly, it is also the case that the courts and lawyers must also be held accountable... and certainly that the alleged "victim" as well as the alleged "primary aggressor" must be held accountable to truth, fair play, and good faith, since, as per Article I, Section 24, "All laws of a general nature shall have uniform operation." For the time being, I will assume that all 50 states have similar clauses in their constitutions.
So, once again, who watches the watchers? Who will hold them accountable? If you tell me, we'll both know.
The ACLU article claims that the woman obtained the protective order after the man assaulted her, etc... What I wonder is if that allegation was ever proven before a trier of fact or not, in a criminal court, where the standard of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt," within the context of a presumption of innocence. Perhaps the article should more properly state that she obtained the protective order after alleging that he assaulted her. She could easily claim that he had assaulted her, when in reality it was her who had been the primary aggressor. I know for certain, from personal experience and eyewitness testimony, that this does happen relatively often. And does anyone, including the two of them, know for certain exactly what was said over the telephone during the call that Mr. Perez allegedly made to Ms. Valdez?
In this particular cherry-picked example case, he returned to commit actual violence, something that happens only rarely, overall... I think they are making an invalid attempt at moving from an existential generalization --- "Rover loves to wag his tail. Therefore, something loves to wag its tail." --- to a universal instantiation --- "All dogs are mammals. Fido is a dog. Therefore Fido is a mammal." What they are really saying is more like "Something loves to wag its tail. Therefore, everything loves to wag its tail." Obviously, not everything has a tail, and not everything with one likes to wag it. (Maybe yous should check my logic, just to make sure I'm not just trying to control your leg?... or you could just cut my tongue out and be done with it.)
It's really too bad that there was no diversionary program in place where they would, ostensibly, and potentially, be taught how to communicate effectively with one another, and to utilize some formal method of conflict resolution. Communication and conflict resolution skills would go a long way towards preventing the kind of angry frustration that leads up to that state of mind where people who think they're like a spring that's got to sproing when it's wound up "go postal" for lack of any other response in their repoire-noir...
I assert that exorcising gender bias is an important "civil liberty." How about exemplifying at least one case where it was the female who in fact attacked the male? I'm willing to bet that no advocates of these protective order laws have performed any honest studies regarding the statistical likelihood of actual violence per se, as contrasted with alleged violations involving mere communication... Or how often communication per se contains any actual threat of violence per se... vs expression of frustration and angst over specific resentments pertinent to their individual conflicts?.. They should also study the effects of even further frustrating communication between them through the imposition of no-contact orders, and the degree of alienation of affections and level of resentments that imposition creates. "Sir, you're not locked in jail because you're wrong. You're locked up so we can separate you from one another. And I'm sorry, but the Miranda law forbids me from taking your statement. And if you don't calm down and stop talking about it, we're going to have to lock you in solitary confinement, incommunicado behind a ream of boilerplate..."
What you're not saying here about these laws is that the courts are issuing these protective orders without requiring (or allowing) actual evidence of true abuse. The standard of proof is merely "a preponderance of the evidence," and I'd bet that quite often, there's not really any evidence, or anything, other than the woman's testimony, often obtained via an interview process conducted by a professional "victim advocate", which gets "heard" while the man's testimony, if ever solicited or presented, is essentially ignored. I think that what gets "prepondered" is often not actual "evidence" per se, but instead "prejudicial presumptions" such as that which are built-into the Utah "Cohabitant Abuse Act" itself, which presumes there is a "primary aggressor" and a "victim", offering no other model of the conflict's actual social dynamics. She is then given a "protective" order that allows her to call the cops and get the man arrested for merely sending an email or text message, and she can get them to arrest him for that even if the order has a modification allowing asynchronous written communication to occur! (If you follow this blog, you'll learn more about that later on, after I feel comfortable with publishing details of my Civil Rights Complaint.)
The protective order forms are standardized, and they contain wording that makes it illegal for the Respondent to contact the Petitioner, but not vise versa. So apparently the police and court officials think it's "legal" for her to send him a derisive text message that asks a rude leading question, but if he replies, she can complain and ask them to arrest him for it, and they'll follow through and actually arrest him. You see, they "have a professional responsibility to screen charges when a complaint has been filed." They seem to think that it's "legal" for her to come to his apartment and knock on his door demanding entry, but if he opens the door, he's violated one of the injunctional contract's boilerplate no-contact provisions?!
I've spoken with several other men who have also had very similar experiences with this. I was told about a man who's ex-girlfriend had a protective order against him. She called or sent a message to him saying that if he did not come and get his things, she would throw them out the door into the street. He went to get his stuff, and she called the cops and had him arrested. The court imposed a one year "mandatory" jail sentence on him. Another man said that the court imposed a no-contact order between himself and his girlfriend. She sent him a text message asking him if he was going to contact her anymore. He answered "No" -- two letters, N O -- and they arrested him and he spent a year in the Utah State Penitentiary. Certainly there may be material details not mentioned by those victims of protective order abuse during the brief conversations I had with them... but since those are the relevant details of actual events that they chose to focus on first, I must assume their complaints are valid and should be addressed by a finder of fact... It would be amazing if the police and his attorney would actually interview him and obtain that information.
I have personally witnessed Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department prisoner transport bailiffs confiscating evidence from a prisoner who had been transported to court in order to appear pro se (without representation by legal counsel) at a protective order hearing related to the charges they had him in jail on, pre-trial. The evidence they took from him was a letter sent to him in jail, written by his wife, who had been "advised" to obtain a protective order against him by the State. In the letter she told him that she did not want a protective order, and that he should bring that letter to court as evidence of that. At court, she was represented by a state appointed victim advocate lawyer, and was not ever asked or allowed to speak at the hearing. The man was not given much opportunity to speak either, and his evidence had been confiscated. The State of Utah imposed a protective order, and thereby separated him from his family. This happened in September or October of 2011.
In terms of police accountability, they need to listen and take appropriate action when the "Respondent" (the victim of protective order abuse) makes a valid counter-complaint. In Utah, 78B-7-115(3) is meant to create sanctions when either party acts in "bad faith" or "with intent to harass or intimidate." The Utah Cohabitant Abuse Act also mandates that certain statements be included on the standard boilerplate forms that warn the Petitioner (person applying for the protective order) that it's a felony to use false information to obtain a protective order, or to use one to abuse the judicial process. The statute makes that attempt at instantiating accountability, but in my experience, neither the police, nor the court officials actually do anything about it even in blatantly obvious cases of perjury or protective order abuse. They don't seem to care about due process, the rules of evidence, presumption of innocence, or the Constitution and pertinent statutes.
In the Valdez v. Perez case, how can we know for sure whether or not the man actually threatened her, or vise versa? It seems to me that in court, before a trier of fact, it would amount to her word against his. We're not told in this brief article whether he made or attempted to make any answer or counter-complaints. If he did, and they failed to react or investigate, that might explain the level of angst, frustration, and anger that, unchecked by appropriate early psychiatric intervention, led to his commission of the murder after the cockroach whispered in his ear "Just kill the bitch. She deserves it! (unspoken... That way we get two birds with one stone, you confused and oppressed Hispanic rival male... who will fail to realize that murder is not his own nor a very good idea and then assert that he won't be a columbine kid."
And what about cases where the woman threatens or attacks the man, and then calls the cops on him? The problem is that there is rarely a clear distinction such as "primary aggressor" and "victim." There are two people who don't know how to communicate with one another effectively, who were whelped under the auspices of a "dominant culture" that applied fiat through violence or other forms of imbalance of power, rather than influence through reason, as a means of getting one's way... They circumcise baby boys, inflicting excruciating pain and a lifetime of deprivation of normal pleasure. Thus applying the dynamics of power and control, they subjugate those males who have been given the "first rite" -- essentially an initiation into slavehood -- to "authority." This psychological conditioning continues with spanking, sending them to their rooms, expression of anger that carries with it an implied threat of violence or reminder of past violence, and so forth. It all comes down to an aggressive imposition of an imbalance of power, or bullying.
With regards to accountability to the integrity of uniform operation of the Rule of Law, there must not be a double standard that allows women to beat up men with "protective" orders based on hearsay and lies; that allows women to harass men with the threat of arrest for "crimes" like answering an email with the wrong answer; so she doesn't get her way, and gets him arrested for it... Nor may there be a double standard where police and court officials apply the law only when it punishes the male, or only when it punishes the out-group member.
I assert that protective orders are more often used to abuse men than they are used to actually protect women. Can you prove that wrong? Oh, but then I'm the one with burden of proof? I think that these laws need to be studied in terms of what they actually do, rather than in terms of the straw man arguments used to convince congress to vote them into law. These laws are the new "Jim Crow" laws. They create and encourage alienation of affections, splitting up families. They encourage "criminal thinking errors" on the part of the Petitioner, who can use the protective order to "close the channel" of communication, effectively preventing any actual resolution of their conflict.
It is no more morally acceptable for a woman to use a "protective" order to bully a man than it is for her to use physical violence to do so. If yous can claim that an email that contains no overt threats of harm is transitively a form of domestic violence, then certainly the "protective" order itself is one. When a woman can obtain one with little evidence or burden of proof, and then use it to have a man jailed for something that is not even remotely criminal, and is certainly not criminal in the absence of the "protective" order, then that imbalance of power being created by the "protective" order is no better than the imbalance created by difference in physical size or ability to win a physical altercation.
The accountability that is needed is to uphold that all laws of a general nature are to have uniform operation. That applies to police, to judges, to physicians, OB/GYN pediatricians, and women as well as men. Domestic violence can not be eliminated without treating the entire family unit. Violence against infant males creates resentments and PSD that will come back someday and bite you in the ass. Stop the cycle of violence by not beginning it with each new generation.
In the state of Utah, the state judges are required to attend ongoing education classes. I happen to know that one of the classes they attended was one taught by a psychologist who has studied the effects of childhood trauma on that child's adult behavior later in life. They are taught that one of the primary reasons to end domestic violence is to prevent that traumatization, to reduce future crime rates. I agree, since I know that people learn by example. If the only way somebody knows how to solve a problem is to... There are standard reactions to common situations that people pick up out of context in life. The first reaction is not always the best one. It is important that people who run into these kind of problems be diverted into "cognitive restructuring" therapy, or classes...
In one of those therapy sessions (if Medicare pays for it) or classes (if Pell grants can?) the attendees are taught about the "thinking errors." One of those, from a handout, is:
Justifying: In avoiding responsibility for her own behavior, a person finds a reason for what she has done. "He wouldn't do what I wanted him to do, so I yelled at him." or "They all did it, so why can't I?"It would be despicably ironic if the Court's version of "Justice" works according to that, uhh, principle! Another "thinking error" is called "closing the channel." It's when she claims he fails to listen to what she had to say, or when she shouts over him to prevent me him from saying something that might give an indication that he was paying attention after all... So, what good does it do when only one of the two people is "treated" with "therapy" that points out these thinking errors? It all comes down to communication skills and relationship dynamics, right?
It seems to me that the whole point of treating domestic violence as a societal illness is to eliminate bullying and violence as a means of conflict "resolution." How else can conflicts be truly resolved, if not through a formal process of some kind that necessarily involves communication?
The presumption of innocence stems from the idea that most people are not criminals. I bet that a careful study of these "Protective Order" cases would reveal that the majority of the complaints do not involve any actual violence, per se. Honestly, if the Respondent truly had committed a serious act of aggression against the Petitioner, then Petitioner could have had Respondent charged with a crime for it, right? Well, actually, often enough she can have him charged with a crime regardless of whether he's committed one... and certainly they issue these "protective" orders without either due process of law or true evidence... And then the Petitioner can have Respondent arrested for things that are not truly crimes, in the absence of a "protective" order. So then, Respondent can be jailed for something that's not truly dangerous... (no time to polish this now. Got to go, sorry.)
In Utah, from what I gather, the warrants issued to the peace officers who are charged with arresting someone do not contain very much information about what the person is accused of having done. It tells them the title of the crime the person is alleged to have committed, and it tells them the amount of the bail. It does not describe any details of what the person is alleged to have actually done that would constitute a violation of the law. The problem is that sometimes they have set the bail very high, which I think would tend to cause them to believe that the thing the person is accused of must be very serious or dangerous. Utah Code 76-2-404 defines the circumstances under which they are authorized to use deadly force.
If a warrant was issued for two counts of third degree felony violations of a protective order with the bail set at $100000, and that's all they officially know about it... they might go to arrest the man believing him to be very dangerous to either them, the public, or the woman holding the protective order. If the things the man is alleged to have actually done that supposedly violate that protective order are not truly violent in nature, or turn out to not truly be violations of the protective order, then what justifies the extremely high bail amount? You may think this scenario is unlikely to happen, and so would I have prior to my own experiences, which I promise to describe with more detail in a future blog entry.
The courts need to be held accountable to keeping bail amounts at levels that are not constitutionally excessive. Warrants must be required to contain a description of what the person is alleged to have done that would constitute a violation of the law. For example, if the offence is for "having written several emails that did not pertain to their child under a protective order that limits email to only those that pertain to the child" then that information ought to be available to the officers sent to arrest the "perpetrator". Certainly a crime charged for such an email, had the email been threatening in nature, would certainly feature that fact about that email. In that case, the exact nature of the threat ought to be included in what those officers are given to believe about the suspect.
Leaving that sort of information out, and then allowing them to extrapolate regarding the type or seriousness of the alleged actus reas based solely on the title and degree of the charges and the bail amount is a set-up for potential wrongful use of deadly force should the suspect panic and attempt to flee. And what would a man think, if all he really did was send a text message, under a protective order that allowed email, asking if his son has returned from a visit with his grandfather, but they have issued a warrant alleging a violation of the protective order, and then gone and set bail at $100000!?? This really happened! And what if, in his experience, they refuse to listen to his side of the story, and are known to keep people jailed for extended periods of time, pre-trial, despite that the alleged crime is non violent per se? He may feel that he is well within his rights to avoid being arrested, since the excessive bail renders the warrant illegal; especially if he needs time to gather exculpatory evidence to present in court.
Several times when I've had things to say regarding the "Twofaced Women Who Act Like Violence has Been Done" law... on various news web sites... I've been censored unless I express a point of view copacetic with the mounted dogmatic rhetoric used to convince people that these laws are fair, effective, and necessary. I suspect that men who express opinions not in keeping with that of these women's advocate's straw man arguments are met with "adult voice" "ex-communication" admonishments and channel closing dismissals, if not outright shrieking, pinching, or slapping to stop them from saying it. It's amusing to think that a woman so quick to censor and so willfully ignorant could ever have learned to program an artificial intelligence that blocks these sort of remarks from being posted on the ACLU web site... She'd have held herself back and never graduated college, right?