Orders of protection in domestic-violence cases can forestall harm, but 87 percent of the victims of family-related killings last year in New York City did not have one, says the New York Times. An a piece of paper, even one bearing the imprimatur of a court, is no guarantee of safety. This is especially true if the paper in question is delayed, ignored or never served. That is what seems to have happened to a woman who obtained a temporary order of protection from a judge Bronx against David Johnson, a top aide to Gov. David Paterson.
When the woman tried to serve Johnson, he initially refused the order, as did his lawyer a few weeks later. A police spokesman said officers did deliver papers to Johnson, but he never appeared in court to answer them. The case has focused new attention on protective orders, and particularly the business of serving them. Orders are not considered in effect until they have been served on the person accused of the offense. “We come across problems with service all the time,” said Betsy Tsai of the Courtroom Advocates Project at a group called Sanctuary for Families. Police are not authorized to enter a home or business. An alleged abuser might simply refuse to come to the door.