Mocking the Constitution for 35 Years: A Summary of Defendants’ Due Process Rights under the American Charter and How Restraining Orders Treat Them Contemptuously

Posted on June 15, 2014

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taped_mouth_cropI’ve written before about “due process,” a constitutional privilege that’s universally denied to restraining order defendants. Recently I was contacted by an intelligent 17-year-old girl who wanted to know what her rights were under the law. She didn’t stand accused of anything. Rather her adult boyfriend had been issued a mandatory (criminal) restraining order in California “on her behalf” that she didn’t seek, and she wanted to know what she could do about it.

She has a tough row to hoe, and I couldn’t provide her with much solace.

In hunting around for resources to direct her attention to, though, I came across a page prepared by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General titled, “Legal Rights of Juveniles.”

Its summation of defendants’ due process entitlements under the Constitution is worthy of the attention of anyone who’s being or who’s been put through the restraining order ringer, as well as of anyone who’s paid to craft laws that honor civil rights. Past posts on this blog have focused on the Fourteenth Amendment. This synopsis covers the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, also.

Contrast:

  • Restraining orders are issued ex parte, which means penalty is imposed upon a defendant without the court’s even knowing a thing about him or her other than his or her name—and in some jurisdictions, s/he’s not granted even the opportunity to be heard unless s/he applies for that opportunity (and the window to apply may be brief) = Sixth Amendment.
  • A defendant is deprived of liberty and often property, besides, without compensation and in accordance with manifestly unfair procedures concluded in minutes = Fifth Amendment.
  • A defendant is subject to criminal sanctions, including incarceration, without benefit of a trial by jury and consequent to a hasty civil adjudication (half an hour) that requires him or her to hire private counsel if s/he’s to be represented at all, that may not allow him or her to face his or her accuser in court, and whose pretrial preparation period affords too little time for witnesses to be gathered (two to 10 days) = Sixth Amendment.
  • Defendants are discriminated against generically, and male defendants are discriminated against specifically to mollify the special interest groups that motivated enactment of restraining orders in the first place = Fourteenth Amendment.

The restraining order process isn’t merely abusive on an epidemic scale; it treats the Constitution with contempt.

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