Thursday, July 17, 2008

DV101- Judicial Stalking

Mis-using the judicial system is a popular and effective method used by abusers and stalkers to harass their former spouse or partner, even when there is a Restraining Order in place. At Sanctuary for the Abused, they describe the problem:
If they can’t get you back, they will try to ruin your happiness, by dragging you to Court on countless frivolous filings. Putting the victim in a situation where they are being victimized – again, by their abuser and sometimes by the system also.This can be on going for years, if gone about it in the “right” way. There are actually web sites devoted to teaching them exactly how and what to do. These sites teach them how to legally stalk, harass, and intimidate victims of Domestic Violence after a Restraining Order has been issued. These sites actually have step by step guides for them to use to learn how to keep the on going harassment, manipulation, intimidation and show how to legally stalk the partner, who has left them. Which in turn keeps the ex-partner their victim causing them immense grief, a financial burden and it wears them out emotionally to the point of total frustration. It also gives these stalkers/abusers a feeling they still have some control and in a sense, they do.
One of the tactics used by abusers who are exploiting the judicial process is the "pro se" defense. When ethical lawyers will no longer participate in the backdoor harassment of the ex-spouse (or sometimes right from the very beginning), some abusers will choose to represent themselves in court, otherwise known as going to court Pro Se. Because they are acting as their own attorneys, they now have the legal right to question their victim on the stand. Usually the abusers have visited one of the many groups or websites that promote this behavior and have learned how to intimidate and harass the witness up to the point that is still legal. Using this method they can still terrorize their former partner without fearing any retribution from the judge.

Abusers who use judicial stalking have often put a lot of time and effort into studying the laws surrounding their case. Many of them file in different jurisdictions to avoid becoming well known to judges in order to make their false allegations or frivolous complaints seem initially credible. This also has the added benefit of inconveniencing their victim by constantly moving the venue. Abusers who use this tactic have no shortage of support. There are groups across the nation that provide websites and real-life support and instruction to any man looking to intentionally harass their former partner via the judicial process. The majority of these groups use children's rights as a cover for their true agenda. However, it is easy to separate these illegitimate groups from legitimate fatherhood groups, as they spend a lot of time minimizing domestic violence and lobbying against child support laws rather than advocating for policies that would actually benefit children. A more detailed analysis of these illegitimate groups can be seen in Stalking Through the Courts by Janet Normalvanbreuche.

While many areas of the country have trained their police officers to recognize abuse and enforce Restraining Orders, funded child protective services, legislated domestic violence statutes, and opened shelters, judicial stalking is still a rampant problem with no apparent solution absent the action of state and federal government. Illegitimate men's groups have caused the numbers of pro se litigation’s to rapidly increase.
Many of their web sites offer how to books, legal forms and packets of motions to file in court. Many of these motions can be refiled over and over just by changing a word or two, the date or going to another jurisdiction. They encourage them to lengthen proceedings with extensive, irrelevant discovery aimed at stalling out the processes.With a no contact RO, these abusers can not see their victim, send them a letter, call them or come within 100 feet of them, in most States. But, for about a $19.00 fee, this same person can file numerous claims and have hearings in small claims court. If they go into State and Federal Administrative Agencies and accuse their victim of obscure violations, their victim will be subpoenaed. This gives the abuser several legal contacts with their victim, where they can legally harass and badger them with no fear of violating the Restraining Order. If this same abuser/stalker does Pro Se defense, they may even get away with other stalking of their victim, like watching or following them, photographing them, going through their trash, etc.
It takes a lot of courage for a woman to leave her abuser. Justifiably, these women are still living everyday in fear when they are constantly forced to see their abuser and suffer public questioning and humiliation. Custody cases are the most popular use of this kind of harassment. Too often abusers battle for custody not out of concern for their children, but with a desire to continue to hurt and control their former victim. A spouse who abuses their partner is twice as likely to try to gain full custody of the children, whether they truly want custody or not. They will often try to mis-use the legal system through retaliatory legal actions to continue their abuse and harassment.

Recently, judicial stalking began getting the recognition it deserves as a serious societal problem. For example, the Biden-Hatch Violence Against Women Act of 2000 authorized $3,000,000 in grants to improve the domestic violence databases in federal, state, and local governments. This strengthening of infrastructure is a trend that we hope will continue in the future. Currently, the only recourse victims have in most jurisdictions is to file a civil suit for malicious abuse of the legal system/process, defamation of character, and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, it takes money and time to file a civil suit, so this isn't an option for the majority of those affected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the link!!

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