New Massachusetts restraining-order law

by Walter Olson on April 13, 2011

A new Massachusetts law that went into effect last year allows neighbors and other unrelated complainants to seek restraining orders against each other, a legal remedy formerly confined mostly to use between family members. But there’s been a surge of filings seeking the new “harassment prevention orders,” and according to the clerk of the Boston municipal court, the law has wound up empowering “every kook in the world” to “file a harassment order against their neighbor or landlord or someone who just annoys them.” Among cases: “One man took his neighbor to Malden District Court for allegedly blowing leaves on his property, and a woman in Boston Municipal Court insisted that actor Chuck Norris used high frequency radio transmissions to harass her at home.” [Boston Globe]

{ 2 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 04.13.11 at 7:37 am

Pressure to pass the law increased in 2003, after a Middlesex jury convicted Steven Caruso of Medford of using a package bomb to kill Sandra Berfield, a 32-year-old waitress in Everett who repeatedly rebuffed his romantic advances.

If only the law had been in effect in 2003, it would have stopped him from killing her. Obviously the law against murder was not enough of a deterrent.

2 Smart Dude 04.13.11 at 10:47 am

This idiot Massachusetts restraining-order change is the very definition of “overlawyered.” Who are the fools who put this steaming pile of colossally bad legislation out?

It should be renamed the Crazy Neighbor Empowerment Act,

Or perhaps the Old Fart Get Off My Lawn You Kids Act

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