As we continue our nationwide contest for “most ridiculous family law bill in the country,’ I am pleased to present the third-worst entry from Massachusetts. The fourth-worst entry was presented yesterday.
I invite your nominations from all states for winner of this contest. The winner will be chosen according to secret criteria that are 100 percent subjective.
(To enter the contest, your email must include the text of the bill, or a link to the text. The bill must be current. Please indicate whether I can use your name as the submitter.)
I now offer:
Massachusetts Doozy Number Three:
“More Restraining Order Follies’ HB 1396 and HB 1546
Under HB 1396, your restraining order could be extended by the court without ever notifying you of the proceeding if you had previously been convicted of violating the order.
So here”s a scenario I guarantee will occur within the first month:
Mom is abusive to the kids and ruthless towards dad. He gets a new girlfriend, so she gets a restraining order against him out of spite, claiming that she is in fear.
Unfortunately, he is the kids” only protector. One day they text message him that mom is drunk and is hitting them. They beg him to pick them up. He goes over and calmly and quietly rescues the kids. The DA, naturally, prosecutes dad for violating the restraining order, since he/she is not allowed to use discretion and drop such cases, and wins a conviction.
A year later, mom goes to court under the new bill with no notice to dad, so there is no one to tell the judge about her multiple encounters with the child protection agency for child abuse. Dad has the restraining order against him extended another year in his absence. Meanwhile, the kids are getting the living h… beaten out of them by mom, with no one to protect them. Somehow I don”t see the judge or the social worker or the domestic violence “victim advocate’ being there Saturday evening at 9:00 PM to protect them.
Under HB 1546, (“The Goldfish Protection Act’) when mom gets the restraining order against him, just to make it smart a little more, she can also take possession of the pets — his beloved dog Daisy, for instance. Daisy, of course, was his long before he even met her.
Of course, bills like these make some sense if you buy into the vision of a cruel, calculating, implacable, life-threatening batterer. No problemo — except that the courts utterly fail to make any attempt whatsoever to determine the truth of the matter. This lack of procedural and substantive rights pollutes and corrupts this entire area of law and turns it into tyranny. It is astonishing that our guardians of civil liberties continue, after all these years, to turn a blind eye to this enormous affront to civil rights.