Posts tagged as:

domestic violence

The separatism-minded Spanish region of Catalonia has enacted a law under which “the person accused of homophobic acts will have to prove his innocence, reversing the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.” [El Pais,] The law includes fines for anti-gay occurrences in the workplace. Advocates defended the shifting of the burden of proof onto the accused to prove innocence as a “positive discrimination measure [that] is already in place for other offenses, such as domestic violence against women, in instances when it is very difficult to prove.” [VilaWeb] (& welcome Andrew Sullivan readers)


Maryland roundup

by Walter Olson on January 18, 2014

Legislature’s back in session and no citizen’s liberties are safe:

  • SB 65 (Benson) would require gas station dealers to maintain operational video cameras and retain footage for 45 days [Maryland Legislative Watch]
  • HB 20 (GOP Del. Cluster) would require all public schools to hire cops [Gazette, MLW]
  • SB 28 (Frosh) would lower burden of proof for final domestic protective orders from “clear and convincing” to “preponderance of the evidence” [MLW, ABA] One problem with that is that orders already tag family members as presumed abusers in the absence of real evidence, are routinely used as a “tactical leverage device” in divorces, and trip up unwary targets with serious criminal penalties for trying to do things like see their kids;
  • Driving while suspected of gun ownership: what unarmed Florida motorist went through at hands of Maryland law enforcement [Tampa Bay Online] 2014 session in Annapolis can hardly be worse for gun rights than 2013, so it stands to reason it’ll be better [Hendershot's]
  • State begins very aggressive experiment in hospital cost controls: “I am glad there is an experiment, but I’m also glad I live in Virginia.” [Tyler Cowen]
  • Scenes from inside the failed Maryland Obamacare exchange [Baltimore Sun] Lt. Gov.: now’s not the time to audit or investigate the failed launch because that’d just distract us from it [WBAL]
  • Corridors run pink as Montgomery County school cafeterias battle scourge of strawberry milk [Brian Griffiths, Baltimore Sun]
  • Plus: A left-right alliance on surveillance and privacy in the legislature [my new Cato at Liberty post]
  • How did Maryland same-sex marriage advocates win last year against seemingly long odds? [Stephen Richer, Purple Elephant Republicans citing Carrie Evans, Cardozo JLG; thanks to @ToddEberly as well as Carrie and Stephen for kind words]

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From Britain: “Domestic abuse involving “emotional blackmail” – but no violence – could become a criminal offense carrying a heavy jail term under tough new measures published for the first time.” [David Barrett, Telegraph]:

“Critically, its [the draft's] definition of abuse includes “controlling or coercive behavior” which would “encompass but is not limited to physical, financial, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse”.

“Controlling behavior” would also lead to criminal charges, including when a partner makes another person “subordinate”, “exploits their resources” or “deprives them of the means needed for independence”.

The offense would apply to abuse committed against any spouse, partner or former partner, regardless of gender.

As Pamela Stubbart notes at the Daily Caller, when based on purely psychological and emotional interactions and states of dependence, concepts like “control” and “coercion” are at best highly subjective affairs, inviting unpredictable legal application as well as he-said-she-said legal battles in the wake of breakups or other relationship failures. The measure would also threaten criminal liability for some speech (e.g., emotionally hurtful insults not involving threats of violence) that would often be included in definitions of free speech. Meanwhile, a ban on exploiting partners’ resources or denying partners financial independence threatens to throw a shadow of criminal liability over many marital and romantic arrangements long deemed unproblematic, whether or not egalitarian.

Barrett in the Telegraph notes that while the cross-party group of Members of Parliament who are introducing the bill do not speak for the Cameron administration, they have a record of some success at getting their ideas on domestic violence enacted into legislation. Offenses will carry a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

Related: periodic proposals in state legislatures and elsewhere to ban “workplace bullying” (more) raise some of the same issues, as do enactments (like “Grace’s Law” in Maryland) endeavoring to ban “cyber-bullying.”


Because the important thing is to show that lawmakers have their hearts in the right place, which means not lingering over doubts about the constitutionality of the restrictions on speech or the implied rebuke to double-jeopardy norms or the nature of the delegation of federal power to tribal courts. Who cares about that stuff anyway when there’s a message to be sent about being tough on domestic violence?

P.S. In case you wondered, the U.N. is in favor.

April 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 25, 2012


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]


February 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 7, 2011


Fateful friending

by Walter Olson on August 20, 2010

A Florida man was arrested for violating a protective order prohibiting contact with his estranged spouse after he attempted to “friend” her on Facebook [Slatest via Josh Blackman]


Ken at Popehat laments, “My Entire Existence Is Now Against The Law In France.” [New York Times]


“Jane Doe” has sued a Missouri company, Foxtrax Vehicle Tracking Inc., in a Wisconsin court, saying it aided and abetted her domestic partner in tracking her whereabouts, thus enabling him to commit assault and battery on her. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via Masnick/TechDirt and Siouxsie Law]


Everyone else in the country has been talking about it, we may as well too. [Hanna Rosin, Slate via WSJ Law Blog] Another view: Cathy Young, Real Clear Politics.


That’s a more controversial proposition than you might think; the Connecticut Supreme Court was split 5-2 in agreeing that a hearing was necessary to confirm the validity of a protective order against a defendant who has been accused but not convicted. The case pitted the state ACLU against the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. [Connecticut Law Tribune via Amy Alkon]


Such is the contention of Yoichi and Ayisha Shimamoto, who are suing UAL “for ‘negligently’ overserving alcohol during a flight from Osaka, Japan, to San Francisco, saying the carrier’s drinks fueled the domestic violence involving the two shortly after their plane landed.” (Julie Johnsson, “Couple accuse United Airlines of overserving husband, causing him to beat wife”, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 17).


Jurists behaving badly dept.:

According to the commission report, [Niagara Falls, N.Y. city court judge Robert] Restaino was presiding over a domestic-violence case when a ringing mobile phone interrupted proceedings. When no one took responsibility for the ringing phone, Restaino ordered that court security officers search for the device.

About 70 defendants were in the courtroom that day to take part in a monitoring program for domestic violence offenders. … After all the defendants denied having the phone or knowing who it belonged to, Restaino sent 46 people to jail. Fourteen who were unable to make bail were handcuffed and jailed for several hours.

The New York state Commission on Judicial Conduct removed Restaino from office Tuesday, calling his action “a gross deviation from the proper role of a judge.” (Janine Brady, “Panel gives judge a ringing rebuke”, CNN, Nov. 28; Elefant, Nov. 28).


Something unusual in the Yale Law Journal: an article that takes a not entirely enthusiastic view of the continued spread of domestic restraining orders. Under such orders (some earlier posts) allegations of spousal abuse, whether or not eventually proven at trial and whether or not withdrawn by the accuser, can trigger highly burdensome sanctions against the accused spouse, including a prohibition on entering his or her own home. Harvard Law assistant professor Jeannie Suk says the process can amount to “de facto state-imposed divorce” and greatly increases the power of the state to reach into and reorder family life, sometimes against the will of both parties. (“Criminal Law Comes Home”, Oct., abstract leads to PDF of full version)(via Pattis). In response, a second law professor argues that current legal trends appropriately treat alleged domestic violence as a crime against the state and not just against the nominal victim, and that it is wrong to place too much emphasis on accusers’ supposed right to forgive abusive conduct (Cheryl Hanna, “Because Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”, The Pocket Part, Oct. 12)(& welcome Ron Coleman/Dean Esmay readers).


December 2 roundup

by Ted Frank on December 2, 2006

  • Tennie Pierce update: only 6 out of 15 members vote to override mayor’s veto of $2.7M dog-food settlement (Nov. 11). [LA Times]
  • Reforming consumer class actions. [Point of Law]
  • Judicial activism in Katrina insurance litigation in Louisiana. [Point of Law; Rossmiller; AEI]
  • What will and won’t the Seventh Circuit find sanctionable? Judge Posner’s opinion gets a lot of attention for snapping at the lawyers, but I’m more fascinated about the parts where the dog didn’t bark, which isn’t getting any commentary. [Point of Law; Smoot v. Mazda; Volokh; Above the Law]
  • Montgomery County doesn’t get to create a trio-banking system. [Zywicki @ Volokh and followup]
  • “The Hidden Danger of Seat Belts”: an article on the Peltzman Effect that doesn’t mention Peltzman. [Time; see also Cafe Hayek]
  • Pending Michigan “domestic violence” bill (opposed by domestic violence groups) criminalizes ending a relationship with a pregnant woman for improper purposes. [Detroit News via Bashman; House Bill 5882]
  • Did Griggs causes distortion in higher education? I’m not sure I’m persuaded, though Griggs is certainly problematic for other reasons (e.g., POL Aug. 12, 2004). [Pope Center via Newmark]
  • The Kramer cash settlement. [Evanier]
  • Jonathan Wilson gives Justinian Lane a solid fisking on loser pays. [Wilson]
  • Speaking of Justinian Lane, for someone who says he was “silenced” because I didn’t post a troll of a comment on Overlawyered, he’s sure making a lot of whiny noise. Hasn’t corrected his honesty problem, though. [Lane]
  • The stuff Gore found too inconvenient to tell you in “An Inconvenient Truth.” [CEI]
  • Islam: the religion of peace and mercy, for sufficiently broad definitions of peace and mercy. [Volokh]
  • One year ago in Overlawyered: photographing exhibitionist students at Penn. Jordan Koko doesn’t seem to have gone through with the threatened lawsuit. [Overlawyered]


Via R.J. Lehmann (Mar. 27), here are some figures indicating that the sum total of the alleged costs of other people’s bad behavior may well exceed the total sum of money in existence. To be more specific: start by adding up the claimed health expenses, productivity losses and other social costs of such indulgences as alcohol ($185 billion a year, it’s said with spurious precision), overeating ($115 billion), gambling ($54 billion), and so forth. Then throw in categories such as the costs of crime, time wasted by employees visiting web sites and watching sports events, and so forth. By the time you’re done, Lehmann says, you can “come up with a grand total of $7.39 trillion – well in excess of the $6.70 trillion that actually exists” — at least if you’re willing to include a few dodgy entries in the catalog, such as taxes. (Thomas C. Greene, The Register (UK), Mar. 16).

It’s not hard to see the relevance of this line of logic to themes often dealt with in this space. In the utopia of the litigators we would succeed in charging the social costs of our overeating to the food business, the costs of our gambling to the casinos and lotteries that led us on, the costs of 9/11 to assorted banks, airlines, building owners and Saudi nabobs, the costs of street crime to deep-pocketed entities guilty of negligent security, and so on and so forth for the costs of auto accidents, pharmaceutical side effects, failure to learn in school, domestic violence, etc. It would not be surprising if the sum total of all the different injuries, insults and indignities dealt out to the human race, if monetized at the rates prescribed by advocates, handily exceeded the sum total of wealth on hand to pay, even were the whole wealth of the world placed at the courts’ disposal.

The official recruitment of cosmetologists as informants (and as intermediaries steering customers to approved “domestic-violence” programs) continues, with programs reported in Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, Virginia, Ohio and Maine, as well as Nevada and Connecticut (see Mar. 16 and Mar. 29, 2000). It’s not just black eyes or lacerations that the salon employees are supposed to be on the lookout for, either. A customer’s protestation that “he would not like that”, as a reason to turn down a new hairstyle, might be a sign of “controlling behavior” that needs watching. (“Salons join effort to stop violence”, Bangor Daily News, Jun. 15) (via van Bakel).