STINKY: Most Restraining Order Petitions Are Rejected by the Courts

Posted on March 27, 2015

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Fact: The false allegation rate, as it’s commonly represented, is 2 to 8%.

Contradictory fact: A majority of restraining order petitions are rejected by the courts. They may be rejected outright, or they may be dismissed on review.

What the precise figures are is up for debate. That’s because (1) those who report false criminal allegation rates are typically people motivated to minimize them (which may include government spokespeople), and (2) comprehensive (i.e., nationwide) stats for civil restraining orders aren’t reported at all. Even state figures for brief periods like these are difficult to winnow:

“In fiscal 1998, about 18,000 temporary and 3,300 permanent domestic-violence-related restraining orders were issued in Colorado counties” (The Denver Post, 1999). At least 14,700 TPOs were dismissed—82% of the approximately 18,000. How many petitions were rejected on sight isn’t reported but might boost the 82% rejection rate significantly. For example, if there were an additional 6,000 petitions that were summarily tossed out (a judge looked at them and said no cigar), the rejection rate would be close to 90%. Appreciate, also, that the defendants in the 14,700-plus cases that were green-lighted and then dismissed doubtless lived in hell meanwhile (possibly on a bench in the park), and it’s unlikely dismissal of the order brought a close to the turmoil. Reward a plaintiff once (in a five-minute procedure) and then withdraw the reward, and a motive is kindled to seek the reward again.

“According to the [Connecticut] Judicial Branch, in 2014 there were 8,669 applications for restraining orders, which resulted in 4,409 approvals. After full hearings, 2,445 permanent restraining orders resulted” (The Connecticut Post, 2015). Of 8,669 applications, almost half were rejected outright, and almost half of those that were approved (ex parte) were rejected on review. Less than 30% were finalized. Rejection rate: about 72%.

The catch that lets promoters of the 2-to-8% false allegation rate go on promoting it is that restraining orders rejected by the courts aren’t rejected as “false,” per se.

Maybe they’re just deemed “insufficiently founded” or “baseless.” This may mean the same thing as “false,” but the word false (cagily) isn’t applied (and there’s typically no way of ascertaining the truth one way or the other, which is the case even when orders are approved and then finalized).

Slick, huh?

Criminal complaints may only be (exposed as) “false” a small minority of the time. Civil complaints that amount to criminal complaints (restraining order petitions) are predominately chucked out (which doesn’t mean records of dismissed TPOs aren’t preserved—and some defendants remain enrolled in domestic violence databases, anyway). Even when the grounds for restraining order petitions are deemed bad, they’re not necessarily called “false.”

Significant to take away from all of this is that the court recognizes that most restraining order petitioners ab-use the process. We know that because most petitions for restraining orders are denied/dismissed.

Never mind how many finalized (“legitimated”) restraining orders may themselves be false (which may also be a majority). That speculation aside, how is it a process that inspires claims that are predominantly rejected by the court not widely considered putrid (and putrefactive)?

That’s a rhetorical question, but this isn’t rhetorical: People are bullied by a procedure that’s acknowledged by a preponderance of court rulings to be more commonly misused than not. In instances, people are bullied beyond depression and ruin; they’re bullied to death.

Copyright © 2015 RestrainingOrderAbuse.com

*Compounding the indeterminacy of verifiable facts, it should be noted that in the period between 1998 and 2014 (the years that the two news-source-derived stats cited in this post concern), the conditioning of judicial priorities may explain why the restraining order rejection rate in Colorado in 1998 (just four years post-VAWA) was much higher than that of Connecticut in 2014. A restraining order advocate might say judges have become more discerning over the years; an opponent might say they’ve grown more servile and compliant.

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