JULY 27, 2015 OVW'S DILEMMA ON CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS
OVW's dilemma to criminalize or decriminalize civil protection/restraining orders has been going on for years without resolution. My JUNE 22, 2015 article explains why it is such a dilemma. OVW wants to maintain the civil protection orders process rather than revert to the prior 1979 criminal process that was handled by criminal courts where due process, evidentiary hearings and innocent until proven guilty were standard elements.
OVW's remaining problem was to influence the judges that handle civil protection orders to continue granting them without question and bypass the criminal process. And, in the process treat the domestic violence allegation as a criminal act with stringent penalties.
In order to achieve this dichotomous feat or ridiculous request, OVW again reached in to the bottomless pool of taxpayer dollars and awarded a 2010 grant to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department (a nonprofit organization) to produce a "Guide for Improving Practice for Civil Protection Orders" for wide distribution to professionals and the Judicial system.
Like its 2005 predecessor The Burgandy Books "thousands of copies were distributed to judges, advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and attorneys in this country and abroad and hundreds of trainings undertaken to educate professionals about the appropriate issuance and enforcement of Civil Protection Orders". What a great promotional idea sponsored by our tax dollars! The Guide to Civil Protection Orders is presumably OVW's instrument to allow judges to grant allegations of domestic violence to women, bypassing criminal due process and evidentiary hearings. Or, is it only a huge "Tour de Force" comparable to influence peddling?
How can Hillary Clinton say "call allegations of domestic violence what it is...a crime" when as a lawyer she knows that the judicial Civil Protection Order process remains flawed?
LOOK AT IT THIS WAY Like all other nonprofit organizations associated with VAWA/OVW, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department (NCJFCJ) is a nonprofit that espouses and promotes VAWA's ideology and principles. NCJFCJ receives numerous grants from the federal government (OVW and others) as well as from private foundations and organizations. Many dedicated and hard working volunteers donate time and resources to the organization and should be highly commended for their efforts. NCJFCJ's financials (pg 12) show just how much is spent on violence against women.
The criticisms in my book are aimed at the radical feminist ideology that served as the basis for VAWA/OVW's approach to combat violence against women and to reveal why the approach is not working and why ultimately it will fail to protect women against violence and abuse. The goal of protecting women against violence is achievable and beyond dispute; however, the present policies and procedures adopted by OVW and the Judicial system need drastic reform. The vast majority of paid workers and volunteers working in these non profit organization are honest and dedicated people and should not be blamed for the failed approach of an ideology doomed to failure.
Take a look at the Guide to Civil Protection Orders published by NCJFCJ. It is a well written document full of valuable information on domestic violence. It was approved by judges, lawyers and a special committee of highly knowledgeable people as well as by OVW.
So why can I say with certainty that the Guide:
1) is a masterpiece of rhetoric wasted on a flawed court process 2) is a house of cards with no substantive foundation 3) is a perception of what should be rather than what it is in reality?
And the reason is...the Guide lacks the basic ingredients that would make it useful and credible: Due Process and Rules of Evidence.
TROUBLING UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE?
Until the Civil Protection Order court process is revamped, NCJFCJ's Guide could lead to unintended emotional and financial trouble for both the plaintiff and defendant. The inherent danger is the fact that 85% of the protection/restraining orders are filed by and granted to women and the Guide has been widely distributed to judges, lawyers, advocates and to all involved with domestic violence prior to implementation of needed reform. The major problem concerns the court's handling of false allegations and perception of violence not based on reality that frequently occur when the allegation of domestic violence is filed. Throw in all the He Said/She Said cases that judges have trouble with in determining the truth, the Guide can then lead to emotional and financial problems for everybody. There is a definite probability that an innocent person may be punished or the real perpetrator may get away with murder.
Innocent defendants have a difficult if not impossible time to defend against the allegations when faced with opposing lawyers and women's advocates and judges who have no tools to determine the truth. The Guide tends to introduce many elements that exacerbate arguments and controversy. And, everybody knows that lawyer fees increase as the case becomes more and more adversarial.
FACT AND NOT A MYTH
Divorce has always been considered Big Business and the only significant reform were changes that enhanced the business culture such as No Fault divorce and Alimony laws. No changes were ever attempted to ease the trauma to children by establishing "shared custody" as the norm rather than the exception. Now it seems like Domestic Violence will not play second fiddle to the Divorce culture and will seek its top place in Big Business.
If OVW's radical approach succeeds in linking and making domestic violence part of the Divorce process, once again Divorce will become the Top Gun of Big Business. And, the losers will be: family, family values and those suffering from the human tragedy of PTSD...Post Traumatic Stress of Divorce.
VAWA/OVW's failed approach, its exclusionary philosophy and the hundreds nonprofit organizations espousing and supporting their ill-fated ideology are the major reasons why the war on stopping the violence against women has failed and women are duped by a false sense of security.