Back in June, a New Jersey judge declared the state’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to be unconstitutional. Judge Francis B. Schultz, of the Superior Court in Hudson County, determined that it was too easy for someone who claimed domestic violence to get a restraining order.
The ruling was controversial. When I first read about the case, I was astounded that a court would take such a stand against domestic violence victims. Sandy Clark, associate director of the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, considers New Jersey’s law to be among the best in the country, according to NJ.com.
New Jersey’s law
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is strict. Some of its provisions include:
- Police must respond to calls of domestic violence victims.
- If there are any signs of physical injuries the police must arrest the abuser.
- Police may also arrest the abuser without witnesses or signs of physical injuries.
- Police are required to give victims information about their rights and to help them.
- Temporary restraining orders (TRO) may be issued by the superior court or a municipal court.
- A domestic violence hearing must be held within 10 days of issuing the TRO.
At the domestic violence hearing, the judge may grant substantial relief to the victim, including:
- Temporary custody of children
- Monetary compensation
- Barring the defendant from the home, regardless of who owns or leases it
- Prohibiting the defendant from any oral, written, personal or other form of contact with the victim and others, including children
Violating due process
The law allows the judge in the domestic violence hearing to make his or her decision based upon the “preponderance of evidence.” That’s where Judge Schultz had a problem. He wrote that this violates the defendant’s right of due process, and that the standard should be “clear and convincing evidence,” which is more difficult to achieve.
In his 21-page opinion on Crespo v. Crespo, Judge Schultz wrote, “It is well-established that a parent’s right to the care and companionship of his or her child is so fundamental as to be guaranteed protection under the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
He continued, “That a fundamental right could be forfeited as a result of a rapidly calendared, summary hearing without discovery, where the only protection afforded the defendant is the ‘mere preponderance standard’ clearly offends the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Quite frankly, given that there are people who falsely accuse their partners of domestic violence, the judge’s arguments make sense.
Battle of the sexes
According to NJ.com, women’s rights groups and the Attorney General’s Office are preparing to challenge the ruling. It appears that the case may be headed for the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Others considered the ruling a victory for men. An article posted on the DailyRecord.com declared that Judge Schultz should be considered an American hero.
“He stood up against the powerful feminist-controlled domestic violence machine and ruled that the New Jersey domestic violence statute is unconstitutional, and that people’s 14th amendment rights were being violated. Judge Schultz could have taken the politically correct route; he did not.
“The state Attorney General’s Office, in league with the battered women’s groups, has come out against this ruling and plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. These two ‘partners in crime’ are yelling that the sky is falling because a court ruled that the standard of proof is unconstitutionally too low.”
The issue is being cast as today’s battle of the sexes. Unfortunately, people on both sides are fighting the wrong battle.
Men and women perpetrators
Battered women’s groups argue that female victims, and their children, need to be protected from abusive men. Father’s rights groups argue that women file false abuse complaints simply to be vengeful, and get away with it. They both accuse divorce and child custody lawyers of using abuse allegations as a strategy to win their cases.
They’re all right some of the time. None of them are right all of the time.
Lovefraud has heard from plenty of women who were seriously abused by male partners. And we’ve heard from plenty of men who were abused by female partners—including physical violence.
We’ve heard stories of abusive men manipulating the legal system to get children taken away from battered mothers. And we’ve heard stories of men fighting to get custody of their children from abusive mothers, facing judges who believe that mothers simply do not harm their children.
Sociopaths and domestic violence
Dr. Liane Leedom says that half of domestic violence perpetrators are sociopaths, and the other half have sociopathic tendencies.
Sociopaths, as Lovefraud readers well know, are both men and women. And whether male or female, they are equally vicious and destructive.
So this is not a battle of the sexes. The real struggle is between sociopaths and their victims; between people who have a conscience and those who do not.
If you’ve been a victim of domestic violence, or have been falsely accused of domestic violence, please tell Lovefraud about your experience with law enforcement and the courts. Did the police and/or courts act appropriately? Were they able to determine who was telling the truth? Why or why not?
Please don’t use any names, although you may identify the jurisdiction (county or state) if you want.