Some cases are meritorious. Others are not.
The following are examples of real cases that went before a judge.
Sex For Rent
Petitioner, respondent’s apartment manager, wants a restraining order because respondent threatened that she would shoot anyone that entered her apartment. The apartment manager stated that the respondent would not let her husband in the apartment to make repairs and that she had filed an Unlawful Detainer case against the respondent for failure to pay the full rent due each month nor would she let her make needed repairs. The respondent denied making any statement about shooting anyone and that she did not even own a gun. She further stated that she was not short on any rent payments because she had an arrangement with the apartment manager’s husband. She supplied sexual services to the manager’s husband for a break in the rent. The apartment manager fainted briefly at this revelation.
300 Pound Strippers
A 300 pound mother and her two obese daughters, ages 13 and 15, who weigh 230 pounds and 300 pounds respectively are angry with their 7/8 grade teacher who has cited them for dress-code violations. They came to school but the teacher would not meet or discuss the issue. The three women invaded the teacher’s classroom while in session and tore her clothes off in front of the kids. She sought an R.O. against the three fatties.
My Aunt is an Alien
Petitioner wants a restraining order against her aunt because she thinks her aunt is an alien. The petitioner believes her aunt is using her telepathic powers to make her do things against her will like uncontrollable twitching, making her wet her pants and pick her nose.
Petitioner wants a restraining order against her male roommate because she is “uncomfortable” with his actions. The petitioner states that her roommate told her that he “didn’t feel he needed to take his meds anymore and that he had stopped taking them.” Later that evening, she came home to find her roommate stark naked and throwing beer bottles around the apartment. Respondent told the court that he did not mean to scare her, but he is, “pregnant and his hormones are wacko.” The respondent went on to say that, “everyone needs to be open minded and should remove all their clothes.”
Dog Pregnant by Man
Petitioner wants a restraining order against respondent because he molested her dog and now the dog is pregnant. The petitioner fears that he may come after her next.
Herb Dodell had two serious rape and molestation cases, both involving minors, come before him as a judge.
Under Age I
In the rape case, the petitioner was seeking a restraining order against a man who had been raping her every week for more than a year and a half. She was 13 years old at the time. She finally reported it to the school guidance counselor. The respondent was the uncle of her best friend. Whenever she visited her friend’s house, he would come on to her. He ended up taking her to motels where he exposed her to porn and molested her.
The respondent appeared with his lawyer. The young girl appeared with her parents and a sibling. After Herb heard her testimony, he asked the lawyer for the respondent if he wanted to present his side of the case by calling the respondent as a witness. Dodell had asked the lawyer if there was a police investigation or criminal case pending. There was. Obviously, because the wheels of justice often grind slowly, they needed instant relief from further contact, ergo, the petition for the Restraining Order. The respondent’s lawyer said his client wanted to testify even though he understood that his testimony, which was being recorded, could be used by the District Attorney in any criminal proceeding. Herb had been a Deputy District Attorney himself and knew the effect the testimony could have if used against the respondent. He had a Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify.
His lawyer (and the respondent himself) chose to waive the privilege, to Dodell’s surprise.
Herb took the proper waiver after advising him of his rights and he testified. His story was unbelievable to Dodell. So, he granted the restraining order for whatever effect it would have. At the least, if he came within five feet of her, he would be arrested.
Under Age II
Herb also had a serious case involving a six-year-old girl who claimed that the husband of her babysitter molested her. She said he kissed her on the lips and then touched her vagina. She knew the words. First, Dodell heard from the mother. She was tearful. They had complained to the police and there had been an investigation. The child had also been examined at the hospital for any evidence to support the claim. The respondent was in court, without a lawyer.
When the case began, the petitioner, the mother, who had been appointed as the guardian ad litem (meaning the she acted for the minor in any court proceedings), said they had made an agreement, whereby the respondent would agree to the issuance of the restraining order. Herb was suspicious about this.
Since the mother could only testify as to what she was told, her credibility was very important. She may have wanted to get him for what she had either accepted was true or had some other motive. People do some not wonderful things to get even. There was only one way to establish evidence, subject to the weight to be given to it, and that was to question the six-year-old girl. She was downstairs in the children’s play area, so I asked her parents (the father was also present as a “witness”) if their daughter would testify. The court took a recess to let them do that.
When we resumed, Sharon, our judicial assistant, administered the oath. When that was done, Herb asked the girl if she knew the difference between telling the truth and a lie. She said she did. The police report stated that she had claimed the kissing and touching had occurred five times with details of how he allegedly took her into the bedroom put her on the bed, kissed her and then touched her. He also asked her where these things purportedly had happened. She waffled on the rooms. Herb got the feeling that she was repeating something that had been told to her. Dodell is not qualified to opine on such things, but his gut said she was coached.
Then Herb advised the respondent of his Fifth Amendment rights and that if he testified anything he said could be used against him in a criminal trial, if a criminal complaint were to be filed. He said he understood and wanted to deny that any of this had happened. I had asked the little girl if anyone was around when these things purportedly took place. She said his wife was in the kitchen. Unless it was a big house, and it didn’t appear to be, it would be likely that his wife would have seen him take her into the bedroom and would not have allowed it. Of course, it is possible she saw nothing or was complicit, much like the allegations in the Sandusky case.
So what did Herb do? He denied the petition for the restraining order. First of all these were extremely serious allegations. If there was sufficient merit for the district attorney’s office to file a complaint, it would have meant that they concluded they could prove the case with the very high burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. There was a remedy in the criminal justice system. Dodell asked him if there was sufficient evidence to meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence. He concluded that there was not. There was no corroboration by any evidence. There was the denial by the respondent. There was no physical evidence that could be found from any record. The alleged touching was over her clothing, meaning there was no actual touching that would leave a mark or provide any corroboration. It also seemed that a child molester would be more likely to remove the clothing. That never happened. When Herb had asked him if he had any reason to see the child or the family, he said he did not. Since the parties are no longer in contact, there really was nothing to restrain. Given the dramatic ramifications of the issuance of the order, Dodell denied the petition.
Note: “Petitioner” is the person/party who files for a restraining order (R.O.) and “Respondent” is the defendant.
LFMG – Examples of Cases Filed