Presiding Tucson City Court Judge Antonio Riojas Acknowledges Restraining Orders Are “Abused” by “People Who…Say Things That Are Just Blatantly False”

Posted on January 10, 2018


The contents of this brief post are excerpted from the previous one. They’re highlighted separately here because of their almost unique significance. It’s very rare for a judge to frankly criticize the protective order process and the indifference of the justice system to false accusation. The occasion that prompted the judge’s candid discussion of the fraudulent abuse of court process was the dismissal of allegations brought by then University of Arizona scientist Jen Terpstra.

I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Judge [Tony] Riojas told the writerU [on Aug. 25, 2017], “and I’ve never known a police [officer] or a prosecutor to charge someone for…false reports, no matter how blatant….” He added: “I wish they would, because I think people come in, and they say things that are just blatantly false—and lying.” A false or vexatious complainant “can keep filing [protective orders] as much as [s/he] wants,” Judge Riojas saidU (costing an attorney-represented defendant thousands of dollars a pop and his or her accuser nothing; application is free to all comers). “There is no mechanism to stop someone from filing these orders.” What may be worse, even a dismissed order, the judge explainedU, “can’t be expunged” (and anything may be alleged on a fill-in-the-blank civil injunction form, for example, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, or cross-dressing; whether heinous or merely humiliating, allegations that may be irrelevant to the approval of a keep-away order and/or that may never be litigated in court, let alone substantiated, will still be preserved indefinitely in the public record above a judge’s signature). Significantly, Judge Riojas, who is the presiding magistrate of the Tucson [City Court] (and a member of the Arizona Judicial Council and the Task Force on Fair Justice for All), agreed that restraining orders were “abused”U. Of that, he said, “[t]here’s no doubt.”

Copyright © 2018

*In a given year, there are reportedly 5,000 active restraining orders in Tucson City Court, which recently added an annex dedicated to their administration exclusively—and the municipal court is just one of three courts in Tucson that issue such orders.