California’s system of restraining orders in domestic violence cases fails to deliver the protection it promises, says the Orange County Register. The paper says the system “has become a legal labyrinth where rules aren’t the same as reality, procedures differ from courthouse to courthouse, and violators often benefit more than victims.” In one case a woman applied for a restraining order in the wrong courthouse; the request was put on hold, and her husband shot her to death that night.
An Orange County Register survey of all 58 California counties, and interviews with judges, law-enforcement officials, victims of domestic violence and their advocates revealed systemic problems, clerical glitches and judicial inconsistencies. Among the findings: Eleven counties require the person requesting a restraining order to give advance notice to the person from whom they are seeking protection. Such a warning can inflame a combustible relationship or help abusers avoid being served with the order. Almost one-third of restraining orders are listed as unserved, making them invalid. An order cannot be enforced until it is served.