PERJURY: BS-ing the Court, the Frequency of False Allegations, and the Fraudulent Abuse of the Civil Restraining Order

Posted on March 15, 2014

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In the last post, I discussed how lying is generally gotten away with beneath the radar. What people who’ve blessedly had no personal experience with fraudulent abuse of legal process fail to grasp is (1) there’s no incentive to expose untruths except (perhaps) when they’re used to frame people for crimes for which they stand to be convicted, (2) lies are much more commonly used to re-frame the truth into one favorable to the image or malicious intentions of fraudsters than they are to send people to prison, (3) lies don’t have to succeed in false criminal convictions to be damning or ruinous, and (4) lies may be of sorts that are impossible to discredit yet may permanently corrupt the public records and lives of the falsely accused.

Writers, for instance, who confront false allegations of domestic violence don’t actually invite their imaginations to conceive what such false allegations might be. Perhaps they vaguely suppose they’re of this nature: “He beats me with a belt buckle” or “She locks me in the pantry.” False allegations like these may certainly be made, but lies may be much more subtle or vaporous: “I live in a constant state of fear” or “She said she was going to kill me while I sleep.” Is the truth or falsity of these latter claims possible to ascertain? No. Police reports and restraining orders may be based on allegations like these, however, and anyone who imagines maliciously motivated people are incapable of making false statements to this effect have lived enviably sheltered lives.

False claims of stalking are as easily manufactured: “He creeps around my neighborhood late at night” or “She cut me off in traffic, almost running me off the road.” Allegations like these may not only be the substance of false police reports (which may—and do—gnaw at the sanity of their victims) but may be grounds for false restraining orders (which are far more nightmarish). In fact, the latter allegation was the basis of an emergency restraining order reported to this blog, which was petitioned against a college girl, in or just out of her teens, by her female counselor. The girl and her mom had a weekend to prepare her defense, and she wasn’t fully exonerated of her accuser’s litany of “terror-inspiring misconduct” (which included the girl’s greeting her accuser a few times in chance public encounters in a town of 2,000 residents and seeing her at church).

False allegations of sexual harassment? “He‘s repeatedly told me he wants me to [X] him” or “She keeps propositioning me”—try disproving allegations like these, which may be much more explicit and include claims of physical molestation. The consequences, if it’s necessary to enumerate them, could include termination of employment, marital dissolution, peer or social isolation, and the emotional and thus physical decay that accompany each or all. False claims like these, which take mere seconds to articulate, may never be recovered from.

For making such false allegations to the authorities and courts, there are no consequences, except to their victims. There are statutory penalties on the books for making false claims (committing perjury), but they’re rarely if ever enforced and couldn’t be enforced consistently within governmental budgetary constraints, so commonplace is lying. Are such false claims going to end up in some statistical database? Of course not. Ask an honest district attorney, though, why lying isn’t prosecuted, and s/he’ll tell you it’s because lying is an everyday occurrence.

This is the invisible irony that escapes everyone who tackles consideration of rates of false allegations: the fact that lying isn’t prosecuted is the indicator of its rampancy (prosecution of frauds on the police and courts would overwhelm the system). And because lying isn’t prosecuted, it’s in the interest of maintaining the dignity of the legal system and the semblance of just and orderly process that judges not acknowledge even flagrant lies as such. To acknowledge them in all their plenitude, yet not punish them, would be to call into question the legitimacy of the system itself. Restraining order frauds, moreover, may be rewarded with favorable verdicts in spite of lies, making the concealment of those lies by judges that much more urgent.

Society has been conditioned, in the decades since the advent of the restraining order, to be hyper-vigilant and -reactive toward allegations of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment—behaviors associated with male abuse of women, which the restraining order was conceived to curb, if not remedy. These offenses are ones to which the population has been vigorously, even coercively, sensitized. The justice system is consequently poised to descend upon those accused of such behaviors (including women), as is the public poised to believe allegations of such behaviors to be true, especially when validated by the courts.

False accusers are certainly aware of these prejudices and may easily exploit them—and should hardly be expected not to. Agents of the system may, in fact, goad them on, even while salting the wounds of those who report that they’re victims of false allegations by telling them they have no legal recourse (which, practically speaking, they don’t). Judges, furthermore, may scourge such victims in the courtroom based on allegations that their accusers leveled in one-sided, five- or 10-minute auditions.

To recap: Liars aren’t prosecuted, so lies aren’t acknowledged as lies, but the civil procedure that’s most eagerly and impulsively abused by liars, the restraining order process,  is supremely lax, instantly gratifying, and universally promoted. This procedure, what’s more, indelibly fouls a falsely accused defendant’s public record; may deny him or her entitlement to home, children, and property; and may cost him or her, besides, employment and employability in his or her chosen field of endeavor.

If this weren’t infernal enough, the outrage and misery expressed by victims who’ve found themselves in the eye of this perfect storm of unreason, some of whom are left impoverished of everything that gave their lives meaning, are credibly denounced or even mocked as crackpot.

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