“Are You Serious?”: One Commenter’s Experience of Restraining Order Corruption

Posted on March 26, 2013

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A commenter on this blog’s Q&A page recently submitted an update on his own ordeal that illumines the contradictions, corruption, and chaos that mar the restraining order process. His story, which I’ve edited for clarity, is worthy of the attention of legislators and should be of interest to anyone who has a stake in these matters or is curious to know how the restraining order process has been debauched since its advent decades ago.

As I mentioned before, I made an attempt to file an order of protection against the scorned sociopathic woman who put one on me. I was told I could not, yet nobody was able to tell me what statute prohibits this or what the law says except, “You cannot put an order of protection on anyone who has one on you.” I did, however, file a motion to dismiss/vacate.

One day last week I was going to visit my mother for lunch—her house is one of the few places I will go. She lives downtown. While on the way to visit her, I decided to make another attempt to file this order of protection. The court building is very close to where my mother lives. I went to the main courthouse and was ultimately told by a clerk (as well as lawyer who had overheard me) that to file a restraining order, I had to go to another building specifically for this. This new courthouse is about three years old. I took a taxi to the new building, made it into the area to file, gave my info, signed in, and waited. Ninety percent of the people there were women, most of whom looked like trouble. There were no secretaries. Questions and answers were audible to everyone. There were some very legitimate people, though I could see a lot of these people were simply looking for trouble. Not one was turned away.

They should get a revolving door put in soon.

There were about 20 forms to fill out. I was handed examples of how to fill them out with arrows, underlines, and check marks to indicate where everything went. I had already filled mine out in advance, using an online PDF. I handed the paperwork in, and it was gone over with me before the helper entered it into the computer. A short while later, a woman called my name. She asked me if had a case with this woman. I said yes. She said she sees I’m in the computer for filing a motion to vacate. She asked, “Vacate what?” I said, “Restraining order.” She told me, “You cannot put an order of protection on a person who has one on you.” I said, “I have not been out of my house in a year. I am the one who needs this. This woman is a scorned sociopath, and she is looking to get me in trouble.” She said a judge usually won’t hear a case like this. I said, “The constitution says we have equal protection under the law.” She said, “Let me see what I can do.” A short while later another woman called me and said the judge will see you at 2. I sat around and phoned my mother to say lunch was off. Two o’clock rolled around. I headed to the courtroom and saw the youngest female judge I have ever encountered (my fourth female judge). I thought to myself, she looks like a nice woman; I think she will be unbiased.

I honestly think people become possessed by demons when they put that black robe on. Most of them, anyway.

While I waited to be called, I did witness a couple of cases that were legit. I also saw some are-you-serious? cases. One woman just wanted her ex-boyfriend to stop calling and bugging her. I thought, no way is she getting one. The judge asked her, “Are you afraid he will hurt you?” She answered, “No.” The judge said, “I cannot issue one if you have no fear of him.” She said, “I don’t think he will hurt me…I don’t want him to bug me,” and fumbled for what else to say. The judge again leaned in, stuck her head forward and said, “I am going to ask you one more time: Do you fear him?” She said, “Yes.” Bingo! You just won a restraining order. Congrats!

Now I was called.

The judge had thought my order was up in a couple weeks, though that was the motion to dismiss. She said, “I cannot give an order of protection to anyone who has one on them from the other party.” I said, “What about the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois Constitution that state citizens have equal protection under the law?” She was cocky and said, “Oh, really. Where exactly does it say that?” I went into my carrier, which has a stack of paperwork for this case, and I pulled out the full constitution and said, “Article1, Section 2: ‘nor be denied the equal protection of the laws.’” I heard gasps at the back of the courtroom. She said, “Well, it is law I cannot give you one.” (By the way, this was the fastest talker I had ever encountered in my life—Adderall added, I’m guessing.) I grabbed my pen and said, “I have looked all over for such laws and cannot find any. Can you give me that statute?” She grabbed a book and said it was in the Illinois restraining order law book (I missed the page number), statute 750:60/215. I tried to find this book or that statute and had no luck. I must have written it down wrong, or she made it up, because she found it as fast as I could put pen to paper.

The good news is she made the restraining order “pending,” and it will be heard the same day as the motion. Her final words were, “You’ve made all the proper steps so far.” Like a game, eh? If that book does exists (I’m sure it does), I’d love to buy a copy!

The statute the judge quoted to him does exist (750 ILCS 60/215):

Mutual orders of protection; correlative separate orders. Mutual orders of protection are prohibited. Correlative separate orders of protection undermine the purposes of this Act and are prohibited unless both parties have properly filed written pleadings, proved past abuse by the other party, given prior written notice to the other party unless excused under Section 217, satisfied all prerequisites for the type of order and each remedy granted, and otherwise complied with this Act. In these cases, the court shall hear relevant evidence, make findings, and issue separate orders in accordance with Sections 214 and 221. The fact that correlative separate orders are issued shall not be a sufficient basis to deny any remedy to petitioner or to prove that the parties are equally at fault or equally endangered.

This statute is over 25 years old and derives from the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The commenter above was not a batterer, nor, it’s very likely, were most of the men (and possibly women) who were slated to be issued restraining orders as a consequence of allegations made against them on the afternoon the commenter visited the courthouse (allegations, it’s worthy to note, that may have been coerced by the presiding judge: judicial subornation of perjury). The language of the statute (“protection,” “abuse,” “endangered”) along with the title of the act that instituted it into law plainly suggest that a much narrower application of it was intended by lawmakers than obtains in the administration of restraining orders today.

I find this commenter’s account very credible, as I hope any legislators who may read it will. “Are you serious?” is right.

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